CUPE is calling on members in the Ottawa-Gatineau region to support the final leg of the extraordinary Walk4Justice campaign, a 4000 kilometre, 91 day walk from Vancouver to Ottawa to raise awareness and demand action for missing and murdered Aboriginal women.
Members are invited to participate in any or all of the events planned for Sept. 19, the final day of the journey, including:
- A march to Parliament Hill, departing from Minwaashin Lodge, 424 Catherine St., at 9 a.m.
- A rally on Parliament Hill starting at 10 a.m. with guest speakers.
- A fundraising feast and an evening of entertainment at the Bronson Centre, 211 Bronson Ave. The feast begins at 5 p.m. with entertainment to follow, featuring drumming, dancing, poetry, folk music and even some comedy.
For more information, check out the flyer.
The Walk4Justice is an incredible story. Founded in 2008 by Gladys Radek and Bernie Williams, this is the second time the group has made the journey from Vancouver to Ottawa, with three other major walks in between. The Walk4Justice seeks justice, closure, equality and accountability, and a full national public inquiry into this terrible epidemic in our country.
CUPE Representative Don Moran met up with Walk4Justice activist Elder Mable Todd and other supporters near Upsala, Ontario on day 53 of their long walk. Moran walked with Todd for part of her journey and spoke with her about the importance of their undertaking.
“It was important to me to join Mable on her walk, and to get her thoughts on what needs to happen to achieve true justice for these missing and murdered women,” said Moran. “The recent funding cuts to organizations fighting for this issue are really disturbing. It looks as though governments are not taking the problem seriously.”
The Walk4Justice comes at an important time, as both the Ending Violence Association of BC (EVA BC) and the West Coast Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) have recently had to withdraw from the B.C. missing women inquiry, citing the government’s failure to provide funding for counsel for community groups.
“The failure to fund counsel for Aboriginal, sex worker and front line women’s organizations essentially shuts these groups out of the inquiry,” EVA BC Executive Director Tracy Porteous said in a press release. “We will not participate in an inquiry that will not listen to the voices of those who were closest to the missing and murdered women and their communities.”
“The voices of these organizations need to be heard. They represent the voices of the missing and murdered Aboriginal women and we will not stand by while they are silenced by the Harper government,” said CUPE national president Paul Moist.
According to Sisters In Spirit, an organization dedicated to raising awareness and researching the alarmingly high rates of violence against Aboriginal women, more than 582 Aboriginal women have gone missing or been murdered in Canada since they began collecting data in 2005. These cases remain unsolved. Sisters In Spirit is also facing funding cuts from the federal government.
“CUPE will be active in drawing attention to this important issue and to the importance of the work of these advocacy groups,” said Moist.
Radek and Williams are joined by Elder Todd and Elder Aleck Clifton on their walk, along with other brave walkers, including Sophie Merasty, Robert Banner, Mage Hunchitt, Serina Worm, Brenda Osborne, Gil Osborne, Myrna Abrahams, Cheryl James and Cindy McIvor.
CUPE has supported the Walk4Justice in previous years as well. Moist, as well as members of the National Aboriginal Council and the Rainbow Committee joined the Assembly of First Nations and the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) in a rally on Parliament Hill in 2009 to demand action from the federal government.
More recently, CUPE also hosted representatives from Sisters In Spirit for a special presentation on the December 6 National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada, and CUPE members also joined over 1000 delegates from NWAC and the Women’s World 2011 conference for a march on Parliament Hill in July.