Monday, September 22, 2014
Text Size

Montrealers march for missing and murdered Indigenous women

Demonstrators demand government action, increased awareness

Written by Janna Bryson

On February 14, over 500 people gathered in the snow at Place Émilie-Gamelin for the annual March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, organized by the Missing Justice Collective. According to organizers’ estimates, it was the biggest march since the collective began organizing it in Montreal in 2010.

The first March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women took place in Vancouver in 1991 after the murder of a First Nations woman. In an interview with The Daily, Bianca Mugyenyi, the Programming and Campaigns Coordinator at the Centre for Gender Advocacy, explained the continuing legacy of the event.

“These marches are meant to symbolize a spirit of women’s resistance, [of] women standing up for themselves – specifically with the goal of being free of violence regardless of race or gender,” said Mugyenyi. “We are trying to generate a public presence, we are trying to generate solidarity, and we want to see less violence in the future.”

According to a 2010 report from the Native Women’s Association’s Sisters in Spirit (SIS) initiative, 582 Indigenous women have gone missing or been murdered, with roughly 75 per cent of those cases estimated to have occurred from the 1990s onward.

Later in 2010, SIS lost its federal funding and was unable to continue its research; however, a similar project was conducted by Maryanne Pearce at the University of Ottawa in 2013. Pearce’s research led to a database that has recorded 3,329 missing and murdered Canadian women, 824 of whom are Indigenous.

This year’s march began with an opening prayer, music from the Buffalo Hat Singers, and motivational words from a few speakers. Maya Rolbin-Ghanie, a member of the Collective, shared with the crowd some of the reasons why she participates in the march.

“I march because we lose track of what is urgent and what is not. Our sense of collective urgency is skewed and stunted. Some would have us believe that violence against women is no longer urgent in these parts, or that it is never urgent when measured against more pressing ‘life and death’ issues like war or climate change. I wish that they understood that dealing with any issue in a vacuum makes no sense at all, and will only create more work for all of us.”

From 6:45 to 8 p.m., the hundreds of protesters took to the streets of downtown Montreal with chants, banners, and flyers. Attendees participated in the march for a variety of reasons. Stephanie Guico of the Montreal organization Head & Hands felt both personal and professional connections to the event.

“[At Head & Hands] we work partly with First Nations populations and First Nations women offering social legal and medical services,” Guico told The Daily. “Also on a personal level, my experience as a racialized minority in Montreal, and to a certain extent having known people who have been marginalized [...] I feel a particular affinity with this cause.”

Some demonstrators, like Hannah Harris-Sutro, sought to show solidarity with the cause from other communities.

“I’m here this year, and especially tonight, because there was a demonstration scheduled in the Village by another collective [tonight],” Harris-Sutro told The Daily. “It felt really important to be here as a queer presence [...] because I thought that it was just completely inappropriate [for the other demonstration] to be competing with this march.”

The demonstration ended at Place des Arts with more music from the Buffalo Hat Singers, some closing words, and hot chocolate for the frozen protesters.

Addressing the demonstrators prior to the march, Rolbin-Ghanie encouraged people to think critically and empathetically in the face of social issues. “We need to ask ourselves continually and repeatedly, ‘Am I motivated by love or by fear?’ and then make adjustments accordingly.”

Whatever Trevor

Dis is Trevor.

Education & Training

Blast from the past: FP archive

When is Consultation, Consultation?

Ovide Mercredi

National Chief – AFN

During a Treaty Roundtable meeting of the Alberta Chiefs, I took note of a federal government document outlining their strategy to define and ultimately impose their own form of self-government. Read more...

Letting go of residential schools

by Gilbert Oskaboose, Nov 1993 First Perspective

There is a lot of "unfinished business" in Indian Country. Garbage that we as a people have never really dealt with. Chief among them is the whole issue of those infamous residential schools and their impact on people. Read more...


obidiah picture

ANALYSIS - Bill Gallagher

gallagher picture

Under the Northern Sky by Xavier Kataquapit

Under the Northern Sky by Xavier Kataquapit


Regional Media Officer– Temp (Until Nov 2015) –F/T Position

Office of the Leader of the Official Opposition / NDP Research Office

Location:131 Queen Street, Suite 10-02, Ottawa, ON


Communicate regularly with regional media outlets (community newspapers, radio stations, student media, ethnic media, etc.) to propose ideas for interviews and opinion content Read more...

Canadian Chamber of Commerce Aboriginal Workforce Report

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce released a report that highlights initiatives to improve the workforce participation of Aboriginal peoples. 

Opportunity Found: Improving the Participation of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada’s Workforce (December 2013)  

click image to download report

Tue Sep 23 @ 3:00PM - 04:15PM
FNHMA National Conference 2014
Sun Oct 05 @ 9:00AM - 05:00PM
INIHKD & Manitoba NEAHR Conference 2014


September 2014
31 1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 1 2 3 4

Current Video

RIP Percy Tuesday


Thanks to Althea Guiboche for allowing The First Perspective to share her video taken at the Manitowapow book launch at McNally Robinson. 

Percey sings Freddy Fender's "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" and people join in to harmonize. 

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO): The Washington Redskins