Families call for unity in response to violence against Indigenous women

Written by BY KATE LEWIS

Leaders from 15 different groups in the North West Territories gathered at the legislature in Yellowknife, including those from the Melville First Nation, to release their blueprint for the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

They say they have finally come together as a united front following years of internal tensions.

Lisa Kells says she has been waiting years for a vision statement to “unify the entire community. No matter what we’re fighting about,” she says.

“Our vision statement is a way for us to be there for each other. We are here for all of our families in the North. We’re here to understand where we are and to move forward.”

Mikaresynn’s sister was murdered in 2002 in Ms. Virginia, a North West Territories community roughly 545 kilometers (330 miles) south of Yellowknife. She and other family members joined other community leaders in launching the First Nations MMIWG Network on Thursday.

Sheila Robitaille says the plan will be important for the families who have suffered.

“With the allegations about police and other institutions and our ongoing concerns and being not heard on other issues, having this idea and laying a lot of it out for the first time, it’s going to open a lot of eyes. It’s going to make us feel important and make us feel like they understand who we are,” she says.

Robitaille adds she wants to see elected leaders work together.

“I think with all these major things that are happening across Canada we need our political parties to recognize the concerns that are happening in North America, and help them work together to make our community better and to work together for our people,” she says.

Provincial Premier Bob McLeod says he applauds the efforts of the leadership and the people involved.

“The message that we are trying to send is, ‘One Nation, One Voice, Together,'” he says.

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