Logan Gilbert (centre) beats a drum during Saturday’s MMIWG2S event. Photo by Mike Chouinard

Logan Gilbert (centre) beats a drum during Saturday’s MMIWG2S event. Photo by Mike Chouinard

MMIWG2S holds Courtenay rally to demand 231 calls for justice

“We shouldn’t still be fighting for basic rights…. We just want to be equal.”

The campaign started with writing the federal minister. Now, it’s getting out its message to the public.

The national MMIWG2S events aim to draw attention to the plight of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and 2-spirit people.

The noon-hour protest Saturday at Simms Millennium Park in Courtenay was just one of several on March 27, with similar events planned as far away as Whitehorse, Yukon and St. John’s, N.L. At the local event, they drummed, sang, marched through the park and held signs with slogans such as “MMIW Takes Back Canada”, “We Matter” and “Our Brothers Matter Too.”

The efforts started March 13 with sending messages to Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett asking the federal government to enact the 231 individual calls for justice contained in the report following the national inquiry into Canada’s disproportionate rates of violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people. The plan now is to gather each Saturday until the government responds.

“The biggest thing is we need to be heard right now,” said Logan Clifford, one of the co-founders who is organizing the Courtenay event. “We come together as a community.”

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With some parts of the country in lockdown right now due to the pandemic, she says they are encouraging people to display red or show support for MMIWG2S on social media, or perhaps take part in driveways at home if it is not safe in a community for a public event.

While many might be familiar with tragedies such as the missing women from the Highway of Tears on Highway 16 through northern B.C. or from the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver, the problem is more widespread, and Clifford says the pandemic of the last year has only worsened the situation, with Indigenous women being between six and 10 times more likely to go missing and unreported.

“Everything has gone up right now,” she said.

She also points B.C. has the highest percentage of cases in Canada, at 27 per cent, while Alberta is second with 19 per cent. At the same, when someone is reported missing, the case is not viewed in the same way as one from the general population. Across the country, the estimates, she says, are about 4,000 women who have disappeared over the last 30 years, or one woman approximately every 2.5 days, at least of the cases that are known.

“Our cases are not being heard or put to light,” she said. “We’re in 2021. We shouldn’t still be fighting for basic rights…. We just want to be equal.”

missing First Nations