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MMIW: One Indigenous Woman's Perspective

I was at the park last month with my children, my mom, my cousin, and his fiancée all enjoying the early summer evening. We were trying to cook hot dogs on a stick over a fire and my children were having a blast. For some reason, the hot dogs kept slipping off the stick and into the fire pit. It was innocent fun for my family and I.

As we were getting ready to leave, there was an unusual number of police cars and fire trucks at the park. There must have been at least seven cop cars and three fire trucks. We wondered what it could be as we were getting into the car…

But I couldn’t put more thought into this as I had to get my children home and ready for bed.

When all was said and done and the house was quiet, I went on the Internet to find out what had happened. Normally I do not get a chance to follow the news but this time was different. Something had happened at the park where I take my children to play and ride their bikes. To my sorrow, I had read that a young female Aboriginal teenager, Tina Fontaine, was found in a plastic bag in the river by the park where my family and I had just been. Another Aboriginal woman killed and disposed of in an inhumane way. This event bothered me but it is not new news.

What bothered me was that this was beginning to be normal, routine even. So much so that my sister knows of people in her circle that have gone missing and some that have been found dead along the highway or in the fields. Aboriginal woman going missing or being murdered is so routine that my own mother has told me that if she were to go missing, it wouldn’t be of her own volition.

These are the kinds of conversations Aboriginal women are having. It is not normal and shouldn’t be routine. It is scary but necessary. Do other women have to have these conversations? Do you look in the paper and regularly see that another person who looks like you was found in a plastic bag in the river? Aboriginal women have taken to social media, using the #AmINext campaign to draw attention to the reality that we live with.

Since 1980, 1,182 Aboriginal women in Canada have gone missing or been murdered in Canada. Unfortunately, young Tina Fontaine is the latest in a long line of such disappearances and murders, many of which remain unsolved. There have been calls across Canada for an inquiry into this disturbing pattern, but the federal government has dismissed them.

There are vigils happening all across Canada on October 4, 2014 to honour missing and murdered Aboriginal women. Please take the time to go and stand in solidarity with the people affected directly and indirectly. Let’s stand shoulder-to-shoulder as neighbours. Let’s listen. O come and mourn with me a while.

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