When looking at the historical context of Indigenous women in Canada, prior to colonization. Within the Indigenous worldview operated to co-existence with each other and the environment based on mutual respect and reciprocal relationship. All genders had a place and value.
In the Indigenous matriarchal teachings womanhood held a place of special honor and respect as life givers. They were admired by children and looked to for knowledge by members of the community. They have been considered the true leaders of the community.
Due to colonization with the imposition of political, economic, social and cultural systems, the attitudes toward Indigenous women have changed dramatically and tragically. Stereotypes of Indigenous women in Canada as unworthy heathen, having lose morals, being simple minded, unequal to men, and less than human, have subjected them to sexual exploitation, discrimination, and violence. This lack of respect for Indigenous women has become accepted by many in society and has opened the door to abusive and predatory men to engage in acts of violence, with little or no consequence.
However, what is rarely discussed today, is that many Indigenous women continue to make impacts within their respective communities that have served a voice for social justice and solidarity, to reclaim what is rightfully theirs – respect and community.
There have been many growing pressures from Indigenous communities, Amnesty International, and United Nations and human rights watchers have taken concrete action to address the issue.
To move beyond the defining stereotypes of Indigenous women, there are more than 500 missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada who are mothers, sisters, daughters, aunties and friends.
Moving forward, we ask you!
Sisters in Spirit is a national movement through the Native women’s association of Canada, that is held annually on October 4th, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s day to recognize the missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. Across the country, communities, allies and supporters hold events to including rallies, candlelight vigils, workshops and a moment of silence to bring awareness of the concern violence against Indigenous women.