PHOTOS: Rally for MMIWG in Victoria creates space for conversation

An Indigenous Elder speaks to a group of a couple dozen Indigenous people and allies gathered at Centennial Square March 27. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)An Indigenous Elder speaks to a group of a couple dozen Indigenous people and allies gathered at Centennial Square March 27. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
The smell of burning tobacco, sage and cedar fills the air at Centennial Square as people gather to call for action on the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls crisis. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)The smell of burning tobacco, sage and cedar fills the air at Centennial Square as people gather to call for action on the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls crisis. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
A speaker at the MMIWG2S Takes Back Canada rally shares her personal experiences with attendees. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)A speaker at the MMIWG2S Takes Back Canada rally shares her personal experiences with attendees. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
A couple dozen people gathered at Centennial Square March 27 to call on the federal government to implement the findings of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)A couple dozen people gathered at Centennial Square March 27 to call on the federal government to implement the findings of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
An attendee of the MMIWG2S Takes Back Canada rally sings a traditional song. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)An attendee of the MMIWG2S Takes Back Canada rally sings a traditional song. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Indigenous people and allies engaged in conversation on what needs to be done to stop the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls crisis at a rally in Centennial Square March 27. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)Indigenous people and allies engaged in conversation on what needs to be done to stop the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls crisis at a rally in Centennial Square March 27. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Attendees of the MMIWG2S Takes Back Canada rally look on as people engage in conversation. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)Attendees of the MMIWG2S Takes Back Canada rally look on as people engage in conversation. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
An Indigenous Elder looks on as a speaker at the MMIWG2S Takes Back Canada rally addresses those who attended. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)An Indigenous Elder looks on as a speaker at the MMIWG2S Takes Back Canada rally addresses those who attended. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)

A small group of Indigenous people and allies gathered in Centennial Square Saturday to draw attention to the ongoing crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

Similar rallies have been occurring across the country, as people grow tired of the federal government’s inaction on implementing recommendations made by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) nearly two years ago.

With only a couple dozen people in attendance, those at Saturday’s rally, one man who had recently moved to Canada, asked the Indigenous elder present what allies can do to help.

“Stand up and speak,” she responded. “When you see an injustice being done, offer help.”

“The biggest mistake we’ve ever made is not talking about it. It’s not acceptable to sit by idly.”

READ ALSO: Violence against Indigenous women during COVID-19 sparks calls for MMIWG plan

Another speaker addressed the physical and sexual abuse he has endured and emphasized the importance of telling people what’s going on. He then asked those circled around him to share what they were feeling.

“Sadness, anger, outrage,” some people responded.

Multiple allies expressed anger with the government, and the Indigenous elder agreed, but reminded them that just like they must hold the government accountable, they must too hold themselves to the same standards.

“When we leave here today, what are we going to do to enact change?”

The federal government originally committed to releasing an action plan on MMIWG in June 2020, but has since delayed it citing the pandemic. The Final Report on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls can be read at mmiwg-ffada.ca.

READ ALSO: Federal delay of MMIWG action plan sparks dismay ahead of inquiry anniversary

Victoria police have also asked that people continue to look out for Belinda Cameron who was last seen in the 800-block of Esquimalt Road on May 11, 2005. Cameron, 42, is an Indigenous woman standing 5’8” with a medium to large build, weighing 170 pounds. She has long, dark brown hair and dark brown eyes.

Anyone with information can call the historical case review office at 250-995-7390.

Belinda Cameron has been missing from the Victoria area since May 2005. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)


Do you have a story tip? Email: jane.skrypnek@blackpress.ca.

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