Back in Montreal. Dunno for how long.
Until I can return to regular blogging, please follow the fantastic posts put up by my sister Fringers on our Proud to be a Member of that Left Wing Fringe Group called Women Facebook page.
Don't let the Harper government get away with this latest outrage.
But the occasion may become a memorial for a government-funded research project that put a spotlight on the hundreds of aboriginal women who have gone missing or been murdered in this country.
Federal funding for the Sisters in Spirit initiative of the Native Women's Association of Canada runs out March 31, and the federal government will not give the group any indication whether it will extend its mandate.
"We haven't heard anything," said Sisters in Spirit director Kate Rexe. "The government is silent on the issue."
With a grant of $5 million, Sisters in Spirit spent the last five years compiling a database of more than 520 women who have disappeared or been killed over the last 40 years. The group prepared tool kits for families and police to use when a woman goes missing and developed policies and programs to help stop the cycle of violence.
Rexe said the Sisters group is prepared to begin implementing policies and community programs aimed at three specific areas -- the justice system, child welfare and poverty. But that's been on hold for months because Ottawa won't say if it plans to keep funding the work.
"It's unbelievably frustrating," Rexe said. "We have all the knowledge, the momentum. We can actually start to implement change, but we don't even know if we can keep planning."
A year ago, Status of Women Minister Helena Guergis said she was working on extending the project. "I want you to know, I've already engaged in the process of what Sisters in Spirit Two would look like," Guergis said at the Status of Women committee meeting Feb. 12, 2009.
But a spokeswoman for Guergis would not say Friday whether funding for Sisters in Spirit is forthcoming, and said in an email Ottawa has asked NWAC to share its database with police
There's an action plan on the Fringers page.
Don't just hold the fort. Take (back) the hill.
UPPITY WOMAN DATE: This letter was sent to the Star's Public Editor Kathy English, about the image accompanying this post. I reprint it here, unedited:
The following link came to my attention today, which takes an article published in Saturday’s Winnipeg Free Press regarding the fate of funding related to the research, education and policy initiative of the Native Women’s Association of Canada called Sisters In Spirit, and attaches an extremely offensive photo of two topless Aboriginal women.
This photo is not only offensive, it is a colonizer’s portrait of Aboriginal women which is sexualized and arguably trying to create the image of the “savage” woman, denying dignity and respect for the true place of Aboriginal women, who are historically the givers of life, central to communities as nurturers, caregivers, educators and leaders. To connect this photo to a story about Native women’s leadership on the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls is disrespectful and only goes to further devalue the lives of Aboriginal women and stigmatize their place in Canadian society.
The response from one of my staff I think says it best:
“Honestly though, I would like to see a newspaper article that talks about missing and murdered Aboriginal women with a photo of happy (or just normal) young, Aboriginal girls accompanying it. THESE are the women we’re talking about who are at risk of violence!!! And this photo proves a point we’re making in the research paper that Aboriginal women have been dehumanized through colonization. And Canada thinks it’s progressed?”
I’m looking forward to the day when the media begin to treat Aboriginal women in the same way we do the stories of Tori Stafford and Jessica Lloyd – innocent victims of violence who are honoured for their lives, and not marginalized, dehumanized, or sensationalized for social stigmas or the circumstances surrounding their death. Sadly, this day will be a long time coming when supposedly “progressive” media outlets like The Toronto Star are posting photos of Canada’s shameful history as an image of Aboriginal women today.
I ask you to please take this image down immediately.
Kate Rexe, B.A. (Hons), M.A.
Director, Sisters in Spirit
Native Women's Association of Canada
You know, I actually don't disagree. Which is why I chose the image. Perhaps i should have been clearer about my intentions. It is precisely because Aboriginal women have been treated as disposable objects, ever since European men set foot in the Americas, that we have arrived at this place in modern history where our government not only does not care, but actively turns its back on the problem of missing and murdered Aboriginal women.
The photo, however, is not unlike other photos I have run with other blogposts about women being violated both here and abroad. Whether I am talking about the murder of Jasmine Fiore, whose highly-sexualized photos filled the media, or the acid attacks on Afghan girls, or the rapes of women in the Congo, none of the pictures are pretty.
And aren't all of these women colonized, not quite in the same way of course. But colonized none the less.