On Wednesday, July 11, hundreds of people gathered at The Forks to rally and raise awareness to the large number of missing women in Manitoba, many of whom are believed to have been murdered.
The rally was a call-to-action from Manitoba’s Aboriginal population to all levels of government. Starting in front of the Scotiabank stage at The Forks, the demonstrators then marched to Portage and Main, led by riders on horseback and by women singing and beating drums.
Upon arriving in front of 201 Portage Avenue, the assembly then gathered for speeches made by leaders from the Aboriginal community. Many of the speakers stated that an inquiry into the over 600 missing women across Canada, 80 of which are from Manitoba, needs to be carried out by the governments of Manitoba and Canada.
“We call upon the federal government of Canada. We call upon people like Stephen Harper. Don’t turn a blind eye to our people any longer. It’s time for you to step up Stephen Harper and your federal government,” declared Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Derek Nepinak. He then explained that an inquiry is required to raise the profile of the issue as part of the process to lead to a better future.
However, the fact the government has not yet called for an inquiry, despite numerous petitions, represents a failure in the eyes of Aboriginal leaders.
“It tells me that all these missing women, the 80 plus women that are missing here in Manitoba, that it’s OK for this province. But it’s not OK,” proclaimed Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief David Harper.
In response to having their demands being unmet by the Canadian government, Aboriginal leaders have now gone to the United Nations in order to put the pressure on Canada to answer for the lives of the women missing nation-wide. Their hope is that by raising the profile of this issue to an international level, the world will join in a global call-to-action to the Canadian government.
More pictures from the rally can be seen here: