5th Annual Grandmother’s Prayer Walk for MMIWGTSMB 2020 Full Moon Healing Walk – Binaakwe-giizis (Falling Leaves Moon)

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Honesty, Respect, two of the Seven Sacred Teachings
Honesty, Respect, two of the Seven Sacred Teachings

THUNDER BAY ON – This year on October 1, 2020, the 5th Annual Grandmother’s grassroot Prayer Walk was dedicated to Murdered and Missing Women and Girls, Two Spirited and Men and Boys lead by Lynx Clan Watch.

This Full Moon Healing Walk began at the Giant Heart of Thunder Bay, Intercity McIntyre-Neebing River Bridge, also known as “The River of Tears.” This is where Christina Gliddy, March 29, 2016, Wunnimun Lake, Dylan Moonias, September 23, 2017, Curran Strang, 18, Pikangikum FN, Stacey Debungee, Treaty #3 Glen Morrison, July 18, 2003 Kyle Morrisseau, 17 Keewaywin FN, just to name a few of the people who have died.

The walk involved smudging the streets, along with prayers and healing songs, bringing awareness to people along the way of MMIWGTSMB and the support honking their horns and words of encouragement from vehicles and people on the streets, standing in doorways along the way as , Neeshawaytahmog, carried water with a filled birchbark bowl to the Thunderbird along the road of drugs and sex trade and homelessness, with the Staff of Hope and Remembrance that has 67 names of unsolved cases that was carried in since the beginning when Lynn Sharman’s idea came to life.

For the 2020 Prayer Walk, the Committee made a decision to have one walker, Neeshawaytahmog accompanied by her grandson Nation. This was out of concern for the surging COVID-19 numbers.

Additional names have been added this year to the Staff of unsolved crimes of our loved ones, with of course, permission of the families.

Thunder Bay has had 8 homicides in 2020 already, this is up from the seven homicides in 2018, the city seems to be working toward the crown as #1 murder capital again.

The final report of the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls was released on June 21, 2019, with 231 Calls to Action.

The many nights of debriefing from horrific stories by families, with great faith in our cultural beliefs and spiritual deliberations , the Genocide of Indigenous women/girls hearing the experiences of suffering the injustices of their lost loved ones stolen from their lives two spirited women/girls were included in the report.

Commissioner Marion Buller’s statement to Lynx Clan Watch regarding the MMIWG Final Report,

“There are three important principles behind the Calls for Justice:
  • That Indigenous women, girls, 2S, families and survivors must be included in planning implementation of the Calls for Justice (“nothing to us or for us without us”, I think is the expression),
  • Systemic racism exists throughout all government institutions and the end goal is self-determination and self-governance.
  • So, it means that grassroots families’ voices must be heard when there is planning, that no one has to prove systemic racism exists anymore and grassroots families have a role in designing new governance. These and other Calls for Justice are the only ways we will end the genocide.
The National Inquiry was established by the federal, provincial and territorial governments.Those governments decided, in our Terms of Reference, that women and girls would be the subjects of the National Inquiry. This decision was not and could not be made by the Commissioners and myself. Only governments could make the decision to change our Terms of Reference to include men and boys.
At the beginning of our work, there was some pressure on governments to include men and boys. I don’t remember the details of this, now, but even with pressure, governments still decided not to include men and boys in our Terms of Reference.
I want to add that we did say in our Final Report (I am paraphrasing), that the Canadian state’s actions to displace Indigenous Peoples from their cultures and land and to eradicate their existence as Nations is genocide and that genocide is the cause of the murders and violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2Spirit people. We didn’t say that the genocide was only against our women, girls and 2Spirit people. This finding is at page 174 of the Final Report.
As Minister Bennett still hasn’t presented a national action plan. First, due to COVID, there is much more public attention on the living conditions on reserves, on domestic violence and health issues.
Second, there is also much more media coverage of the violence that our people face and the presence of systemic violence.
We don’t have to keep proving all of this, anymore.
Third, there is more public pressure on all governments to take action to solve a lot of the problems we, as individuals, families and communities face. Governments pay attention to voters because they want to be re-elected. So, if the public, especially those who vote, want action, the government will move. I think that these are good reasons to hope for change. However, each one of us must continue to speak out against racism and sexism in whatever ways we can and whenever we can. Especially now, it is important to remind ourselves that we are strong, resilient and beautiful peop

The Final Report is available on-line on several websites and hard copies are available at libraries and other similar locations

In a message to Lynx Clan Watch, Premier Doug Ford stated,

“We must never forget the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls across Ontario and Canada. Indigenous women deserve to feel safe and secure, and I am proud of the important work being done every day by Regional chief Roseanne Archibald, National Chief Perry Bellegarde and Chiefs across the province. We have an incredibly strong relationship with our indigenous partners, and we will continue to do everything we can to protect the safety and well-being of Ontario’s Indigenous communities.”

Minister Greg Rickford, Indigenous Relations also told Lynx Clan Watch in a statement,

“Offering my best wishes to the organizers and participants of today’s Walk in honour and in memory of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls across our country on. Know today that myself, Premier Ford and our government remains committed to addressing the systemic causes of violence against First Nations, Metis, and Inuit women, girls, and LGBTQ2S people that are addressed in the Final Report of the National Inquiry in to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. As we move forward together on the path of reconciliation, our government will continue to work together with Indigenous partner, leaders, in the justice system and community groups to make progress as we enhance violence prevention and create better access to services. By working together, we can support Indigenous women and girls; empowerment and help secure a future free from violence. I wish the best to all of the participants of today’s Walk.”

We reached out to others for statements, but this support was greatly appreciated. Every Full Healing Moon, will be an event held by Lynx Clan Watch to honour our women and families of MMIWGMBTS, so that we may support one another to seek justice, maintain a healing journey together to forge a path forward to reconciliation from the past genocides of our beautiful indigenous culture.

The Eagle Staffs at the Walking With Our Sisters at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery
The Eagle Staffs at the Walking With Our Sisters at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery

On Sunday October 4, the Sisters in Spirit Vigils, to honour the lives of MMIWG are hosting an online vigil from 2:00 pm EDT to 3:30 EDT.
This vigil helps raise awareness of the ongoing crisis as well as provide healing opportunities for families who have lost a loved one.
You can join the Sisters in Spirit Virtual Vigil on October 4, 2020 by visiting:www.nwac.ca/event/sisters-in-spirit-virtual-vigil