Between 1978 and 2002, nearly seventy sex-trade workers disappeared from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, many of whom were Indigenous. During the 1990s, British Columbia’s Highway 16 became known as the “Highway of Tears” after more than thirty-two Indigenous women and girls had been reported either missing or dead.
Indigenous groups and organizations, including the families and friends of victims, increasingly began making public calls for action to address the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada.
In October 2004, Amnesty International released “Stolen Sisters: A Human Rights Response to Discrimination and Violence Against Indigenous Women in Canada,” a report created in partnership with Native Women’s Association Canada (NWAC). The document asserted that the Canadian government had not done enough to protect Indigenous women, estimating that more than 500 Indigenous women and girls were either missing or murdered over the previous twenty years.
Why Sisters In Spirit?
The campaign “Sisters In Spirit” came from NWACs advocacy for research to gain accurate numbers of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada. The legacy of this advocacy has resulted in an annual Sisters In Spirit Vigil on October 4th, since 2005. Every October, communities across Canada come together to honour the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) and to stand alongside their families to offer support, educate the public, and commemorate the lives of our Indigenous women and girls.
If you would like to participate this year, NWAC is hosting a virtual Sisters In Spirit. For more information https://www.nwac.ca/event/sisters-in-spirit-virtual-vigil/
Native Women’s Association Canada https://www.nwac.ca/
“Stolen Sisters: A Human Rights Response to Discrimination and Violence Against Indigenous Women in Canada” Amnesty International, 2004 https://www.amnesty.ca/news/stolen-sisters-human-rights-response-discrimination-and-violence-against-indigenous-women
NWAC Virtual October 4th, 2020 Sisters In Spirit Vigil https://www.nwac.ca/event/sisters-in-spirit-virtual-vigil/
If you are concerned about someone who is experiencing domestic violence, please know that the below supports are available to them. We understand that the stress of a global pandemic and being required to stay indoors and share space with others can exacerbate pre-existing issues. We encourage you to share these resources.
24-Hour Métis Crisis Line toll-free number 1-833-638-4722
KUU-US Crisis Line Society: Aboriginal-specific 24/7 crisis line serving the entire province. Toll-Free: 1-800-588-8717.
Youth Line: 250-723-2040. Adult Line: 250-723-4050.
Battered Women’s Support Service:
Rape crisis line (24 hours): Phone 604-872-8212.
Women against Violence against Women: Phone 604-255-6344 / Toll-Free 1-877-392-7583.
VictimLink BC: Phone 1-800-563-0808.
VictimLinkBC: To call collect, call the Telus Relay Service at 711. Text 604-836-6381. Email VictimLinkBC@bc211.ca. TTY 604-875-0885.
Women’s Crisis Lines: Phone 604-687-1867 / Toll-Free 1-855-687-1868. Hours are Mon – Fri: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Wed 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
For more information, visit these links: