A small group of people gathered at Robert Ostler Park for a memorial march along the Island Highway to the Kwanwatsi Big House on the Campbell River First Nation reserve Wednesday morning.
The Memorial March originated in 1991 on the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver after a young Indigenous woman’s body was found dismembered at the corner of Powell and Salsbury streets. The march became an annual event held on Feb. 14 to protest the high numbers of women missing and murdered in the Downtown Eastside that have had their files neglected by Canada’s Police and RCMP.
The Campbell River March’s organizers point out that indigenous women and girls in Canada are disproportionately affected by all forms of violence. Although Indigenous women make up four per cent of Canada’s female population, 16 per cent of all women murdered in Canada between 1980 and 2012 were Indigenous – an alarming over-representation. In 2014 RCMP identified a total of 1,181 missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Numerous other reports and studies on violence towards Indigenous women in Canada have identified underlying causes like poverty, homelessness, racism, sexism, the legacy of colonization and the devastation caused by the residential school system.
Now going into its 28th year, the march brings courage and commitment to end the violence that vulnerable Indigenous women face on a daily basis all across Canada. This march has come to represent a time for remembering, grieving, honouring, and seeking answers for Indigenous communities and their allies.
At the Campbell River memorial march, attendees are invited to wear red, or regalia, to bring drums and share songs.