Thursday, October 4, 2012

Today is October 4th

Today is October 4th, 2012. Across Canada there will be vigils to honour and remember the missing and murdered Aboriginal women, currently estimated at upwards of 700, but likely higher. Last year I wrote a post discussing the vigils and encouraging teachers to teach about this... I was going to write the word issue, but that word is inappropriate in light of the fact that we are not talking about an issue, we're talking about mothers, sisters, daughters, cousins, lovers, friends... Maybe nightmare is better. It is a nightmare to live with the knowledge that the violence perpetrated on our Aboriginal women can so easily be dismissed as just another issue. It is a nightmare to feel powerless when we watch the government say we've done all we can when we can't say for sure what they've done. It's a nightmare to say we matter and see this headline:
Winnipeg Sun Publishes Racist Comments on Murder Story Calling Indigenous People Cockroaches 

It is a nightmare to know that these vigils are necessary.

I feel useless.

But that feeling is not entirely true.

I teach.

In that, I can share what October 4th means, share the story of the fear I have for the women in my life, for the students I teach; I can make visible the invisible, at least a little bit. I can ask you to consider that we live in a culture where they preach "women, don't get raped," when we should be teaching "men, don't rape." I can remind you that we live in a society where an Aboriginal woman can disappear and only a few people will care. I can point out that the Highway of Tears wasn't taken seriously by anyone, except Native people, until a non-Native woman was killed. That is unfair to that woman though, her tragedy doesn't need to be a symbol of what is wrong in Aboriginal- Settler relations in Canada. She deserves more respect than that. As do all the other women.

I can ask you to teach your students what the vigils mean, why they are important. I can ask you to honour and remember these mothers, sisters and daughters and teach your students to create a Canada where we no longer have to live in sorrow.

Please check out the following websites for further information:

And this article by Martha Troian:
Missing/Murdered Aboriginal Women: is it up to the public to call an inquiry?

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