On Thursday, October 4, close to 500 people gathered at Cabot Square in downtown Montreal to demand an end to the impunity of governments and their police, with regard to the national tragedy of the disappearance and murders of Indigenous women and girls. The defence of human dignity was at the forefront of all the interventions made.
Representatives of community organizations explained the important work they are carrying out among Indigenous women and their families to support and guide them through the judicial process when someone dear to them disappears. They are also ensuring that women are provided access to health care and assistance. For example, they spoke about the struggles they are waging to offer a secure environment to Indigenous women living in the street and those who are the victims of aggression and abuse. « This is taking place right now even here in Montreal, » one speaker noted.
Those who spoke condemned the fact that despite 4,000 women being disappeared or murdered, two national and provincial commissions of inquiry established, resolutions adopted by the United Nations denouncing the situation, none of the political parties elected to the National Assembly made this an election issue.
Ellen Gabriel, an activist with the Mohawk Nation at Kanehsatàke dealt with the issue of the historical and present injustices perpetrated by the Canadian state against the Indigenous peoples, whose lands and lives are violated by a system that has not broken with colonialism. « We have a lot of work to do together, » concluded Vivian Michel, President of Quebec Native Women. We must continue to defend Indigenous women and demand that elected members and governments take immediate action and provide the resources needed by the organizations assisting them.
The claims of Indigenous women and their struggle for the affirmation of human dignity must be known and defended by all.
Following the vigil, participants marched to Phillips Square.