Thunder Bay, ON – The violence taking place in Ottawa and in communities surrounding the inappropriately named “Freedom Convoy” is extremely disheartening. Sadly, the word freedom is being used out of context. As Indigenous women we know the fight for freedom, for our real safety from colonialism and patriarchy as we continue to be overrepresented within Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), the justice system, child welfare and many other systemic issues.
Indigenous women during the pandemic continued to experience increased levels of violence, including the situation in Ottawa, where Indigenous women continue to be targeted for violence while walking in public or speaking out on this issue through social media. To be clear, you cannot build freedom through violence.
The overwhelming majority of Canadians have, for two years, respectfully exercised their public duty combating the pandemic. These protests are perpetuating violence and creating unsafe environments and conditions for marginalized groups, especially for Indigenous women and girls. These protests are taking away valuable time that could be spent allocating resources to increasing the safety of Indigenous women by addressing chronic and systemic issues such as MMIWG.
The impacts caused by these protests are inexcusable, and the promotion of symbols of hate and blatant racism have brought to the forefront the undeniable prevalence of systemic racism that is still fully enmeshed within society. These protests serve to increase racial tensions and divisions, further marginalizing Indigenous women, and confounding efforts of achieving the overarching messaging of this protest: “freedom of rights” through the infliction of hate crimes and violence.
We have recently witnessed the bravery and leadership of Robyn Knickle a young non-Indigenous woman who not only spoke out against inequality and violence, but also brought together community by personally creating a GoFundMe campaign to raise $5,000.00 for ONWA’s Charitable Foundation. ONWA would like to follow her leadership and continue this movement by starting a GoFundMe campaign for the community agencies within the Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition who have been collectively dealing with the violence with limited to no resources on the ground. The so-called convoy has taken key resources away from the community of Ottawa who must focus on this crisis. Let’s work together and raise money for the community and show them that we are standing with them in solidarity.
“To be clear no amount of violence is acceptable. During this public health crisis each of us must be doing our part to protect the most vulnerable members of our community. We need safety and healing for our community during this difficult time. I encourage you to consider donating to a real cause in Ottawa such as the Indigenous agencies in Ottawa who are doing the heavy lifting in trying to keep our community safe.” – Cora McGuire-Cyrette, Executive Director, ONWA.
To learn more about the Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition please go to: www.ottawaaboriginalcoalition.ca
The Ontario Native Women’s Association
At the Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA), we celebrate and honour the safety and healing of Indigenous Women and Girls as they take up their leadership roles in the family, community and internationally for generations to come.
For more information:
Andre Morriseau, Communications Manager
Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA)