NEW POST: “#ItStartsWithUs - Supporting the Resurgence of Community-Based Responses to Violence”
This is a collaborative response from Families of Sisters in Spirit (FSIS), No More Silence (NMS) and the Native Youth Sexual Health Network (NYSHN) to the calls for a national inquiry by some family members of missing and murdered women. We come together here to name specific forms of state violence – as much of the violence we face as communities, nations, and families stems from colonial nation-states like Canada and the US and the laws themselves. Structures of colonialism (i.e. state governments, foster care, prisons, social services) are responsible for and contribute to ongoing violence against Indigenous women, girls, Two Spirit, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning intersex, and asexual (LGBTTQQIA) people.
Gender based violence also impacts Indigenous women and Indigenous people who are part of the LGBTTQQIA community. LGBTTQQIA people often don’t fit gender binaries, or other Western categories of relationships and identities dictated by mainstream culture and as a result experience increased amounts of violence. This has resulted in the continuance of hundreds, if not thousands of disappearances and deaths across these lands.
As grassroots organizations, we have also provided some concrete suggestions about working collaboratively across Turtle Island towards the resurgence of Indigenous knowledge while supporting each other to address these issues.
State Responses and Inquiries
With the recent disappearance and murder of Loretta Saunders, a pregnant Inuk university student living in Halifax, support for a national inquiry has grown stronger than ever before.
During the past three years, FSIS has engaged with and appealed to state institutions and government bodies. This included providing testimonies at both the Senate Committee in 2011 (which did not result in meaningfully implemented recommendations) and the Special Committee in June 2013 (whose findings were released Friday March 7th). This past fall, FSIS and NYSHN also participated in meetings with the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous People. We’ve gone through ”the proper channels” and it hasn’t got us any closer to justice that we are seeking.
“In my own mother’s case, I have been petitioning the province and federal government for an ‘independent investigation’; after 12 years I have gotten nowhere. So I did my own. The only way that I was going to find truth or answers about my mother’s death was to find them myself. It is what so many families across Turtle Island have been forced to do because they don’t have support from colonial agents in government, policy-making, media, police, and the legal systems. But as Indigenous women, the grief and trauma of experiencing crisis after crisis in our families and communities can overwhelm us; and the best we can do is just try to stay alive each day.” Bridget Tolley, Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation – Co-founder of FSIS
Our concerns and responses as families and community based organizations regarding a national inquiry come from these types of experiences. It is not an endorsement of the federal government’s position to not have an inquiry, it’s exactly the opposite. It is because we are ourselves family members who are affected by disappearances, murders and violent deaths, as well as community organizers who have seen the harms of state-led interventions. We call attention back to ourselves: we have the answers and solutions. We always have. We are the experts in enacting those solutions too. Collaboratively we are interested in nurturing self-determined and community-led solutions to interpersonal and structural violence. This is where our hearts are; in resistance to colonialism and in fostering our solutions as Indigenous peoples with the support and consensual allyship of our non-Indigenous friends and family members in the struggle.
READ MORE: http://nationsrising.org/it-starts-with-us