Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls (MMIWG)
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
OVERVIEW OF ONTARIO’S PATHWAYS TO SAFETY REPORT
The Indigenous Women’s Advisory Council has developed a placemat that is a companion to Ontario’s Response. The placemat illustrates the structure and recommendations of Ontario's MMIWG response, while also incorporating cultural elements.
DOWNLOAD the placemat in:
Pathways to Safety
ONTARIO’S STRATEGY IN RESPONSE TO THE FINAL REPORT INTO MISSING AND MURDERED INDIGENOUS WOMEN AND GIRLS (2021)
“As the bearers of the future generations of our peoples, Indigenous women, mothers, are physically and symbolically the source of resistance against those who would see us disappear.” – Dr. Dawn Lavell-Harvard, Board President, ONWA.
With the truth uncovered and the government respecting the recommendations of Indigenous women, the plan is a solid foundation for lasting change. The Ontario government’s plan outlines six key areas where action is needed.
BASED ON ONTARIO’S PATHWAYS TO SAFETY REPORT
Pathway to Safety and Security
We begin in the East by creating safe spaces for Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ persons by identifying systemic change. Ontario will support Indigenous women to lead what is needed to increase safety and healing. Key Initiatives, such as addressing social and economic marginalization, will act as protective factors against the violence faced by Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ persons.
Pathway to Health and Well Being
We move to the South and we restore Indigenous wellness practices and ways of being by applying an Indigenous Gender-Based Analysis that leads to action and change. Ontario’s actions and initiatives seek to promote community-led renewal and restoration of health by including Indigenous women and 2SLGBTQQIA+-centered approaches to the health system delivery. This includes programs and services to improve access, promote safety, and increase culturally relevant and appropriate treatment and mental health services across Ontario.
Pathway to Justice
In the West, we work together to reclaim our rights and affect systems change to ensure justice for all. Ontario will focus on systems-wide transformation informed by Indigenous perspectives and structural change in priority areas including justice, policing and child welfare.
Pathway to Culture
From the North, we take action to continue the work of reclamation, to ensure our identity is recognized. Respecting cultural rights means renewing honour for Indigenous women - it means celebrating and embracing women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ persons as sacred and valuable. Initiatives that seek to promote healing by supporting the restoration, reclamation and revitalization of Indigenous languages, cultures and identities are key.
"Indigenous women must not go missing from the National Action Plan."
(Cora McGuire-Cyrette, Executive Director, ONWA)
Reconciliation with Indigenous Women
CHANGING THE STORY OF MISSING AND MURDERED INDIGENOUS WOMEN AND GIRLS (2020)
ONWA's Recommendations for the National Action Plan to Address Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls.
This report embodies critical recommendations that must be integrated into the national Action Plan to address violence against Indigenous women and girls. Indigenous women are at the center of our families and communities. We need to be at the center of the National Action Plan.
Indigenous Gender-Based Analysis
ONWA’s Indigenous Gender-Based Analysis (IGBA) provides a deeper understanding of issues facing Indigenous women and the multiple systems we navigate. ONWA identified 28 systems from listening to Indigenous women as the experts in their lives. All of the systems have embedded systemic racism and perpetuate violence against Indigenous women.
ONWA’s IGBA is built from an analysis of existing anti-violence work ONWA undertook over 50 years. It is designed to identify and eliminate factors that create any form of violence against Indigenous women.
This graphic is a representation of the 28 systems and our roles and responsibilities based on teachings from the turtle.
It starts with an understanding that we are ALWAYS moving in a direction – forward, backwards or sideways. When we are in balance as Indigenous women, we can be guided by Creator and culture.
The turtle’s head represents Creator’s purpose for us. Every Indigenous woman has a purpose and gifts to fulfill that purpose.
The turtle’s tail represents community needs. Each Indigenous woman is intended to use her gifts to contribute to her community’s restoration and maintenance of balance.
The turtle’s feet represent the four roles Indigenous women need to maintain:
Self – Our role as strong and healthy Indigenous women in the world.
Family – Our role to restore and maintain a strong and healthy Indigenous family.
Community – Our gifts and skills to rebuild and restore Indigenous communities. Our organizations can sometimes be our community.
Nation – Our gifts and skills to rebuild and restore Nations (Indigenous, First Nation, Provincial, National)
The turtle’s shell represents the 13 Grandmother Moons, each moon corresponding with a key recommendation.
"“I do not have one clear answer to solve this major issue but I have some ideas that may lead to change. I believe we need to work on healing traumas at the community and individual levels as I mentioned before. I believe we need to connect more through traditions and ceremonies. As an off- reserve, urban Native, I have had little exposure to my own community and traditions. We need to take care of each other off-reserve or on reserve and advocate for each other. We need to be each other’s sources of strength. I believe we should keep fighting for awareness, exposure, and investigations into these MMIWG. We cannot stop fighting for injustices. We can also continue to bring exposure to these injustices by doing what we are already doing. By creating art, stories, and advocating for rights on social media and other types of media.”
(Community Submission, 2018)
FROM THE RECONCILIATION WITH INDIGENOUS WOMEN REPORT
For decades now, ONWA has worked to end violence against Indigenous women. Our recommendations are well-informed, prioritize the health, safety, and well-being of Indigenous women and their families, and seek to ensure that no additional harms will come to Indigenous women.
Theses recommendations were developed by combining research, community submissions, and ONWA’s expertise:
Grandmother Earth Dress
HEALING & HONOURING INDIGENOUS WOMEN & GIRLS IN THE SPIRIT WORLD
The Grandmother Earth Dress is a traditional red jingle dress, created by the Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA), and inspired by Jaime Black’s REDress Project. She honours and acknowledges Missing and Murdered Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit people. She also serves as a sacred item of healing for families as well as communities to commemorate their loved ones. She is meant for families to visualize their loved one in beautiful traditional regalia.
Métis artist Jaime Black started the REDress Project (www.theredressproject.org) to call attention to the gendered and racialized nature of violent crimes committed against Indigenous women and to evoke a presence through the marking of absence. Inspired by her work and our own work with Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit people, ONWA created Grandmother Earth Dress.
365 jingles on the dress represent a year round call for justice and safety for Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit people. While the colour red is not normally part of the Journey Ceremony, this specific dress was born out of vision and ceremony through the guidance and consultation of Elders, Healers, and Knowledge Keepers, where she received her name Grandmother Earth Dress. Through ceremony and teachings, guidance and explanation told that Grandmother Earth Dress came from the Southern Direction to honour women, girls, and Two-Spirit people as missing loved ones and as mothers, daughters, aunties, sisters, grandmothers, nieces and cousins. They will know the dress is made for them. They will know that they are loved.
Grandmother Earth Dress travels throughout Ontario to support families and communities. She is never meant to be worn in this realm but is symbolic of those in the spirit world. ONWA cares and provides ceremony for her four times per year, when she travels, and to prepare her for the community she will be visiting.
ONWA would like to offer special acknowledgement to staff members Collin Graham and Lindsay Tyance, for their dream and hard work to bring forward Grandmother Earth Dress; and to recognize Rita Tyance for beadwork; and Jordis Duke for her creative ability to capture the essence of the Grandmother Earth Dress in ‘She Dances …and they dance with her’ artwork (right).