Just over 100 people gathered in the sunshine on Sunday outside the Aboriginal Student Centre in Brantford’s downtown core to march, drum, offer prayers and raise awareness about Missing and Murdered Indigneous Women across Canada.
The rally, held on International Women’s Day, was a part of the Pink Feather Promise, a campaign launched by the students of Laurier Brantford and Six Nations Polytechnic to fundraise for the children those missing or murdered women may have left behind.
Wonda Jamieson, whose mother Cynthia Jamieson was murdered in 2003, shared how much the event meant to her.
“I am grateful. It’s good to know there’s people out there who actually care about the families. It’s also comforting knowing that they understand that it was not just her life that they took. It now affects me, it affects my children. It’s kind of like residential school. It ripples down.”
One of the organizers for the event, Samantha Cook, spoke to the Two Row Times about the importance of supporting the living victims. “Our mission was to raise awareness about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. I’m so thankful for everybody who was able to come out. It’s really emotional. It feels really good to be able to support them.”
The issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous persons is one close to Cook’s heart. Her biological mother falls among the numbered missing indigenous women in Canada. “I never got to know my mom so I feel like I can really identify with the children who have a missing or murdered mother because I never really got to know what happened to my mother.”
Cook also shared that she has brother who is among the lesser talked about indigenous men who have been murdered in Canada. ”I had a brother who was murdered who I never got to meet. He was murdered in Sault Ste. Marie and I guess doing this is really close to my heart. It’s very passion driven. I’m really grateful for the opportunity to be able to do this and to be able to help the children.”
Brant MPP Dave Levac presented the organizers with a certificate and addressed the crowd saying he supports the call for a national inquiry. Levac said, “I’m very supportive of a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women, not because it’s just against the law but because something wrong is happening.”
Levac told the people gathered, “We need a federal government that acknowledges that it’s different. Don’t tell them, ‘Go into your reservation and go get your police to fix the problem.’ That’s not the answer. The answer is a national inquiry.”
The march was closed with prayers and speeches – and drumming from the Iron Breeze Drummers of Hamilton.
Donations toward the Pink Feather Promise will be distributed to the living victims of MMIW. To make a donation online go to www.pinkfeatherpromise.com and click on the link ‘Donate’.