Indigenous people and their allies held events Tuesday in Canada to honor the memory of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
A couple of hundred people gathered in downtown Toronto in front of police headquarters.
Many of them told stories about families that have lost loved ones.
During the ceremony, people are given a cup of water and a strawberry to hold.
When cut in half the strawberries look like a heart.
Organizers say the strawberries are part of the memorial because it’s a woman’s fruit and a symbol of hope and rebirth.
The gathering in Toronto has been taking place for the past 13 years, according to organizers, who add that it’s an opportunity to gather as a community to pray for loved ones lost to violence.
Joey Twin is an Indigenous activist.
“My mom was murdered when I was 6-years-old in Calgary, Alberta, 59 years ago and no justice was served for her murder. So, it’s been going on for many years our Indigenous folks getting missing and murdered. Our Indigenous nations are in grieving we’re just asking for equality for the justice for us. In this day and age, there are two laws, one for the white man, and and one for us Indians.”
The ceremony has been taking place outside police headquarters because of what organizers call state complicity in the murders of Indigenous women because of police inaction and even as perpetrators of the violence.
The ceremony comes as violence against Indigenous women continues.
Last year, four women in Winnipeg were murdered.
In its final report, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls labelled the violence as genocide.
The annual ceremony is hosted by No More Silence.
A group dedicated to gathering the names of those missing and murdered since 2004.
An event to honor missing and murdered Indigenous people was held Tuesday in Minneapolis, MN.
It included a march and rally where advocates talked about raising awareness of MMIP and work being done to address the issue, including at the state level.
State Sen. Mary Kunesh (D-MN) has been a strong advocate.
She helped establish a missing and murdered Indigenous women task force and a missing and murdered Indigenous relatives office.
In remarks, Sen. Kunesh vowed to continue efforts as a lawmaker.
“At the legislature we are working so hard to ensure that we have the resources we need to continue this work.”
The event was streamed live by the Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition, which sponsored the event along with a handful of other Native groups.
This was the first in-person event in three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Members of the Apache Stronghold, a grassroots group fighting to save a sacred site, are planning a march and other events this week.
They’re opposed to what they’re calling a destructive mining project slated for Oak Flat in Arizona.
Alex Gonzalez has more.
Resolution Copper is a joint venture by Rio Tinto and BHP.
Both organizations say the mine will bring thousands of jobs to the area.
But Vanessa Nosie with the Apache Stronghold says Oak Flat is ancestral and sacred land.
She believes the project would destroy the land and their way of life.
Nosie says as a mother of four girls, she feels it’s her job to protect them and their culture.
“If Oak Flat is gone, I can’t pass that on – and who we are spiritually, we’d be gone forever. It is the same tactic that the United States government has always used on Indian people.”
Events begin on Thursday.
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals hears an appeal next month that seeks to prohibit the transfer of lands, with Oak Flat at the center of the controversy.
The land transfer to Resolution Copper was part of the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act.
Apache Stronghold has argued that it violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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