33rd Annual March in Montreal for MMIWG2S+

People gather in solidarity, demanding justice and change for MMIWG2S+

Activists and demonstrators gather on Cabot Square to denounce government inaction. Photo Claudia Beaudoin

On Feb. 14, Iskweu and the Centre for Gender Advocacy co-hosted the 33rd memorial march for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirited individuals (MMIWG2S+) at Cabot Square. 

The event began with elders and speakers sharing their experiences of loss and pain, while attendees echoed their support through cheers and the sound of drums, setting the tone for the march on Ste Catherine St. 

Every year, cities across Canada unite to honour the MMIWG2S+, a cause often acknowledged by the government through dialogue but lacking substantive action. As of 2023, only two of the 231 calls for justice listed out in the 2019 National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls were completed.

“33 years, people, and we're still where we are. We're still fighting to be acknowledged. We're still fighting to have our cases reinvestigated and looked at,” said Bridgit Tolley, an Algonquin activist.

“Shame!” shouted the audience, expressing their disappointment with the government’s lack of action.

Throughout the march, individuals carried candles and signs in remembrance of those missing and murdered. In between segments of the vigil, the Traveling Spirit Drum Group showcased multiple performances, uniting participants through their music and voices. 

“Your presence means everything because we will keep seeking, we will keep advocating and leading and fighting,” said Mohawk activist Ellen Gabriel.

Iskweu has been actively advocating for justice in the case of Alasie Tukkiapik, an Inuk woman whose body was discovered in September 2023 after she had been missing for several months. The legal proceedings regarding Tukkiapik’s case are ongoing. At the vigil, she was further reminded as voices cried out, "No more stolen sisters!"

“Each one of our relatives that we've lost represents a light that has been taken from our family, from our community and our nations, and we cannot allow that to continue anymore. It's going to take each and every one of us here to call out all levels of government and to challenge them for the lack of political action,” said Hilda Anderson-Pyrz, a member of the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation and the Chair of the National Family and Survivors Circle in Canada. 

“They have the political will, but they're not utilizing that political will to champion the implementation of the 231 calls for justice that we need as indigenous women and girls, and two-spirit and gender diverse people in this country.”

October 2024 will mark the 20th anniversary since the initial report on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Canada surfaced. Despite the passing of two decades, communities persist in raising their voices on these critical matters and advocating for transformative action from law enforcement.

“We've tried peaceful means and you're still not listening to us. You are still there at the same spot that we were 20 years ago, 50 years ago, 100 years ago,” said Gabriel. “For those of you who don't understand the processes of Canada, it always comes down to economics. It always comes down to economics trumping human rights.”