Sunday, February 12, 2017

Violence No More At Ground Zero: It Starts With Us - August 2016 St. Johns, Newfoundland

Violence No More at Ground Zero
Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, Trans and Two Spirit people

Newfoundland and Labrador

December 2016

On August 13 of this year, the It Starts With Us partnership between No More Silence (NMS), The Native Youth Sexual Health Network, and Families of Sisters In Spirit held its fourth annual Violence No More event. For the first time the event was held outside of Toronto in what is now known as St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador (NL), the traditional territories of the Beothuk, Mi’kmaq, Inuit, Southern Inuit and Innu peoples— colonialism’s “ground zero” in North America. This historic meeting took place thanks to collaboration between NMS, the St. John’s Native Friendship Centre, and the Department of Gender Studies at Memorial University. Indigenous grassroots activists, community members, scholars and allies from across Canada, including many based locally in NL, joined family members of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, trans and Two-Spirit people (MMIWG2S) to share updates on and insights into our respective organizing on this issue, and to strategize about how to hold the Government accountable (especially to Indigenous families, communities and nations) during the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada (the Inquiry).

Three years into our work on Ontario’s community-led database, our volunteers have collected 186 names in total, of which 117 have been researched and entered into the database. We have produced an interim draft report which is currently undergoing a peer review. Our work on community lists in other provinces and assisting families with tributes is ongoing and can be found at:

In the spirit of dialogue, and in alignment with the broad movement that is Idle No More, we would like to share publicly our thoughts about the Inquiry (how it should proceed; what possible difference it could make) as well as the important and invaluable grassroots efforts that brought about the Inquiry and that will persevere regardless. We are optimistic that the Inquiry process can become The People’s Inquiry.

First, the Inquiry presents an opportunity to acknowledge the decades of grassroots work done by Indigenous women, communities and nations, and their allies to place this issue squarely on the public radar. It was this dedicated labour that compelled the Trudeau Government to launch the Inquiry.

Moreover, we know that this grassroots work will endure. We see the Inquiry as only part of what must be done to end the genocide directed at Indigenous women, girls, trans and Two Spirit people across Turtle Island. Family members, loved ones and survivors must continue to tell their truths in their own formats, including by keeping records in parallel with the Inquiry if they so desire. In short, Indigenous women and their communities must continue to tell their own stories of MMIWG2S—and be heard.

Accordingly, our vision for the Inquiry centers the work done by Indigenous women, communities, and survivors. We call on the Commissioners to honour and build on this work, while treading carefully, respectfully and compassionately. We also believe that, rather than “reinvent the wheel,” the Inquiry should consolidate and update the information that we already have. The Legal Research Strategy Coalition has compiled reports and their recommendations can be found here: In this way, the Inquiry could produce an indisputable historical record about MMIWG2S, akin to that of the TRC on residential schools.

Second, given that the terms of reference have yet to be precisely defined, we have questions about—and hopes for—a genuine, reciprocal relationship between grassroots initiatives such as It Starts With Us and the Commissioners. Importantly, we urge the Commissioners to adhere to Indigenous-defined terms of engagement, including pre-inquiry insights into how this relationship should unfold.

Third, we believe that stories are potentially transformative. By providing the right kind of space and process in which Indigenous stories can be told and listened to, the Inquiry could serve as a way to educate non-Indigenous settler populations, and build understanding vis-à-vis their relationship with Indigenous peoples. In that vein, we call on the Commissioners to create an effective media strategy to engage the broader public with the Inquiry’s work.

Fourth, we highlight the compounded levels of marginalization faced by Indigenous sex workers, trans, Two Spirit, queer and gender fluid individuals, and others who are often left out of narratives about the Inquiry. These groups should be centered in grassroots initiatives for change and in the Inquiry’s work.

Fifth, while we appreciate how difficult the task of selecting commissioners must have been, we note a heavy weight given to expertise in law and the justice system in that selection process, and call on the Commissioners to seek the collaboration of individuals with research and activist experience in socio-political and cultural realms while undertaking the Inquiry. This holistic approach to the issue is needed to ensure that the Inquiry explores and clearly delineates systemic causes of violence against Indigenous women, girls, trans and Two Spirit people, and avoids a narrow focus on the justice system.

Likewise, we are aware of the enormous challenge of inclusivity—whose voices will be heard—and call on the Commissioners to avoid tokenizing families in an effort to meet that challenge. Here we reiterate our call for the Inquiry to make gender and sexual diversity central to its investigative scope.

Sixth, we demand that the Inquiry’s recommendations be legally binding, particularly when it comes to the comportment of provinces, municipalities and police at all jurisdictional levels. We also have serious concerns about referring families back to those very same authorities and institutions that failed in their due diligence when it came to many cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, trans and Two Spirit people.

Seventh, we call on the commission to ensure that supports are in place for families (chosen ones included) not only during, but after the Inquiry. Those of us who participated in the pre-inquiries saw that supports were sorely lacking for those re-traumatized by the process. Past experiences show us that when governments hold round tables or inquiries, grassroots groups are often left—with little to no resources—to deal with those individuals who have been triggered.

Eighth, we must look after the health and well-being of our helpers, including the Commissioners. In recognizing that there will be a call-out and search for support staff to collect testimony and to follow community protocols in the process, we call on the Commissioners to value the spiritual and psychological health of those they employ, more specifically, that they provide adequate leave and access to spiritual and counselling services for staff—and for themselves—as needed. Vicarious trauma and other triggers are the nature of the work, and important supports—noted above—may not be readily available in remote regions and post-inquiry. 
In sum, we are optimistic that social change will happen, independent of the Inquiry. It is our hope that the Inquiry contributes to that change by honouring the work being done on the ground by Indigenous women, families, communities and nations, and the stories yet to be told.


Catharyn Andersen
Barbara Barker
Lindsay Batt, Memorial University Students' Union
Maggie Cywink
Carol Lynne D'Arcangelis, Memorial University
Audrey Huntley, No More Silence
Beverly Jacobs
Sheryl Lindsay
Jeffrey McNeil-Seymour, Thompson Rivers University 
Odelle Pike, Newfoundland Aboriginal Women's Network; Bay St. George Cultural Circle
Amelia Reimer, St. John’s Native Friendship Centre
Megan Scribe, PhD Student, University of Toronto 
Bridget Tolley, Families of Sisters In Spirit
Alex Wilson, University of Saskatchewan
Wanda Whitebird, No More Silence
Charlotte Wolfrey

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Video Resource for Families of MMIWT2S Call Out for Community Input and Collaboration

No More Silence and Aboriginal Legal Services are teaming up with their shared expertise to create a video for family and community members who are dealing with the violent loss of a loved one.

Over the years of working with survivors of violence and families of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls trans and two spirits, No More Silence and Aboriginal Legal Services have identified significant legal needs among Indigenous community members who have experienced the premature and violent loss of a loved one. Building on the knowledge garnered over the years, this project will create an online video as an educational tool that will assist community members in navigating the legal system and accessing legal supports.

This video will draw on the knowledge of community members as well as those who support them. Our aim is to build and strengthen community capacity by providing this legal resource. We adopt a broad definition of family that includes not only biological family members, but also chosen family. In particular with regard to Indigenous community members involved in the sex trade or street economies or those who identify as Two Spirits or trans there may have been a breakdown in the relationship with the biological family. As well, the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls affects not only those with intimate ties to the individual. Given the nature of kinship and clan ties, the community as a whole suffers and is impacted. In addition, service providers to Indigenous people will also benefit as they will be able to refer their clients to the video as well as learn to better understand the realities of their clients and hopefully how to better support them.

In order to ensure that the video will have a national focus, video production will include a development phase with focus groups to be held in Toronto, British Columbia and Newfoundland to determine the legal resources and supports needed by community members and drive the focus of the video to be created.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

No Justice, No Peace - Honouring Cindy Gladue

We, women outside the system at the grassroots, demand justice for Cindy Gladue and for all Indigenous women in the sex industry.
Cindy Gladue was a 42 year old mother of two daughters, an Indigenous woman who was in the sex industry. In 2010 she was killed by an aggressor posing as a client who left her to bleed to death while he slept. During the trial, Cindy’s body was treated with horrific indifference as her wounded vagina was brought into court as evidence. Her killer admitted to injuring her but claimed it was an accident due to “rough sex”. The mostly white male jury believed him found Cindy’s killer not guilty of anything. He was acquitted and walked free.
Though the circumstances of Cindy’s death and trial are gruesome, her story is not unique, nor is the indifference of the Canadian legal system to an Indigenous women, especially those in the sex industry.
This verdict is an abomination--and it represents a larger pattern of deep and relentless violence by individuals and the state against Indigenous people. We support those who are calling for an appeal to the verdict in this trial--but we also know that for Indigenous women, especially sex workers, the court systems will never provide justice. The legal system did to Cindy exactly what it has done to thousands of Indigenous women--to over-police and under-protect.
Violence against Indigenous women including those who sell or trade sex is not inevitable--it can be changed! We are part of a movement for real solutions to the issues of violence against Indigenous women.
We demand
-CREATE SAFE NON-JUDGMENTAL SPACES IN YOUR COMMUNITY for people who trade or sell sex (or work in street economies) where they can access culturally safe harm reduction and support that is not dependent on exiting the sex industry.
Under Bill C-36, Cindy was legally barred from working with any sort of security that could have prevented her from becoming a target. Her vulnerability to violence was not the inevitable result of being a sex worker. The state is guilty of forcing this mother to make a living without basic protections and must be responsible for that. We demand that the Federal government follow the world-leading example of New Zealand (Aotearoa) and fully decriminalize the sex industry.
-STOP Bill C-51. Under racist Bill C-51, the ways we come together and defend ourselves and our families are being criminalized as “terrorist”. From the streets to the tar sands to the rivers and lakes, Indigenous peoples are fighting for our lives, our families and our nations. Bill C-51 would legitimize the creation of secret police powers to surveill, harass and drag even more Indigenous and other racialized people into jails and prisons. Like Bill C-36 , this law is dangerous, reckless and ineffective at reducing violence.
The Federal government has made clear that violence against Indigenous women (in the sex industry or not) is “not high on their radar”. But out of love for our families and communities, we continue to come together to demand justice, re-build, heal and fight back.
We are actively seeking public endorsements from organizations. Contact us to sign onto our statement.
Endorsed by Maggie’s: Toronto Sex Workers Action Project, Idle No More Toronto, Outburst Young Muslim Women Project & Pomegranate Tree, South Western Ontario Sex Workers, Families of Sisters In Spirit, Anti-Colonial Committee in the Law Union of Ontario, Chocolate Woman Collective
Coordinated by No More Silence and STRUT Toronto

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Violence No More - May 24, 2014

Sarah Hunt, Monica Forrester and Tanya Kappo on community based responses to Violence.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Community Database - Data Entry has begun!

No More Silence is creating a community run database documenting violent deaths of Indigenous women/Two-Spirit and Trans in collaboration with Families of Sisters In Spirit, community partner The Native Youth Sexual Health Network and with the assistance of Dr. Janet Smylie and Conrad Prince of the Well Living House at the Keenan Research Centre. We are beginning the work by creating a research methodology based on Ontario data. So far we have entered 69 women's names from Ontario nations who have died violent deaths since the 1960s.

It's time for community to build our own structures independent of government and institutional funding. The purpose of the database is to our honour our women and provide family members with a way to document their loved ones passing. If you would like a loved one's information included please get in touch via

Check out this radio interview with Audrey Huntley, co-founder of No More Silence and Krysta Williams of the Native Youth Sexual Health Network: Naming, understanding, challenging violence against indigenous women

Incomplete list of Indigenous women who have died violent and premature deaths in Ontario.

♥ Alice Quoquat Netemegesic, murdered in Thunder Bay in the late 1970s.
♥ Alissa Martin-Travers, 5, murdered in Cornwall, April 2008.
♥ Audrey Brown, murdered in Lac La Croix First Nation, Sept. 2007.
♥ Barbara Shapwaykeesic, murdered in Thunder Bay in 1989.
♥ Bella (Nancy Marie) LaBoucan McLean, 25, fell from 31st floor of a Toronto condo on July 20, 2013.
♥ Bernadette Leclair, 16, murdered in Thunder Bay in 1987.
♥ Caroll Lou Viau, 41, missing from Thunder Bay in September 1985.
♥ Carolyn Connolly, 54. beaten and repeatedly stabbed to death, her body found on August 2, 2008 near Sherbourne and Dundas Streets, Toronto.
♥ Cheyenne Fox, 20, fell from 24th floor of a Don Mills condo on April 25, 2013.
♥ Cynthia Lynette Jamieson, 44 of Six Nations; beaten, brutally raped and murdered in Hamilton on June 12, 2002.
♥ Deanna Daw, of Fort Frances; shot to death on Oct. 29, 2000.
♥ Debbie Sloss- Clarke, 42, found dead in her room at Gerrard and Sherbourne, Toronto on July 29, 1997.
♥ Deborah Toulouse, 41, murdered in Wikwemikong on May 18, 2002.
♥ Denise Bourdeau, 39, murdered in Kitchener Waterloo in Jan. 2007.
♥ Diane Dobson, 36, found dead in ditch in Windsor in Feb. 1995.
♥ Diane Marshall, 43, found dead in Toronto in May 2006.
♥ Donna Kabatay, approx. late teens; murdered in Seine River First Nation.
♥ Donna Tebbenham, raped and murdered in Thunder Bay in 1987.
♥ Doreen Hardy, 18, murdered in Thunder Bay in 1996.
♥ Edith McGinnis Quagon, 42; murdered in Minneapolis.
♥ Elaine LaForme, 48, murdered in New Credit on Jan. 22, 2012
♥ Elena Assam-Thunderbird, 17, sexually assaulted and beaten to death on June 1, 2002.
♥ Helen Gillings; murdered in Hamilton, February 1995.
♥ Helen Louise Jacobs, 73, murdered in Elliot Lake, July 2005.
♥ Helyna Rivera of Six Nations 25, murdered in 2011 in Buffalo
♥ Holly Anne Painter, missing from East York since June 1995.
♥ Jane Jack, stabbed to death in Kenora on April 28, 1995.
♥ Jane Louise Sutherland, 20, fully clothed body found on Oct. 23, 1984 in Hull’s Jacques Cartier Park across the Ottawa River from Lowertown.
♥ Jennifer Stewart, stabbed to death in Ottawa in August 2010.
♥ Jordina Skunk, 29, found frozen to death in Fort Severin First Nation on January 31, 2008.
♥ Josephine Thompson, 18; murdered in 1971 - her body found by the railway tracks in Macdiarmid/Rocky Bay.
♥ Judie Thibault, 57, murdered in Thunder Bay in November 2000.
♥ Katelynne Sampson, 7, found dead with signs of bodily trauma on August 3, 2008 in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood.
♥ Kelly Morrisseau, 27 and 7 months pregnant; murdered in Ottawa; her body found in Gatineau Park on December 10, 2006.
♥ Laura Pilon, 22, murdered in Thunder Bay in 1992.
♥ Lisa Lynn Anstey, 21, last seen getting into a car on Bleeker St; found murdered behind Street City in Toronto on May 12, 1997.
♥ Liz Bonney, murdered in Cat Lake First Nation in 1992.
♥ Lorraine Rivers, murdered in Thunder Bay.
♥ Mae Morton, 17, raped and left to freeze to death outside Beardmore in 1962.
♥ Margaret Yvonne Guylee, disappeared in Toronto in 1965.
♥ Margaret Perrault (Bluebird), 32, murdered in Thunder Bay in 1988.
♥ Mary Ann Davis, 25, murdered in Zhiibaahassing (Manitoulin Island) First Nation.
♥ Mary Peters King, murdered in Thunder Bay.
♥ Maxine Susanne Peters, 34, of Walpole Island First Nation; shot and killed on June 13, 2004.
♥ Meloni Sutton, 18, of Fort Frances; reported missing on March 13, 2003 and found murdered in Kenora
a month later.
♥ Mercedes Stevens, 9, murdered in Kashechewan First Nation, Sept. 2006.
♥ Minnie Sutherland, 40, killed in Hull on Dec. 31, 1988.
♥ Pamela Holopainen, 22, of Schumacher; last seen in Timmins on Dec. 14, 2003.
♥ Petrina Whitecrow; murdered in Fort Frances.
♥ Rebecca Jean King, 22, missing since Oct. 21, 1999 from North Bay.
♥ Rena Fox, 38, murdered in Thunder Bay, Feb. 2003.
♥ Samantha Johnings, of Hamilton, 19 months; sexually assaulted and murdered on Dec. 13, 1992.
♥ Sandra Kaye Johnson, 18, found dead on Feb. 13, 1992 near 110 Ave in Thunder Bay.
♥ Sarah Jane Wawia Bernard, murdered in Thunder Bay in 1966.
♥ Sarah Mason, 44, murdered in Thunder Bay in 1997.
♥ Sarah Skunk, 43, missing from Thunder Bay since 1995.
♥ Shelley Lynne Joseph, of Six Nations, 43, stabbed to death in Hamilton on July 2nd 2004.
♥ Sonya Nadine Mae Cywink, 31, found dead in 1994 at Southwold Prehistoric Earthworks near Iona.
♥ Spring Phillips, 26, murdered in Toronto in December 2009.
♥ Stacey Diabo, 18 of Kahnawake; killed in Sept. 2003.
♥ Susan Asslin, 19, brutally stabbed to death near Dryden in 1974.
♥ Sylvia Gaudet, 52 of Hamilton; found murdered on Jan. 5, 2005.
♥ Tashina Cheyenne Vaughn General, 21, murdered along with her unborn child, body found on
April 26, 2008 at Six Nations, near Chiefswood Road and Indian Line.
♥ Terra Gardener, 26, was killed by a train in Toronto on May 14, 2013.
♥ Theresa Wilkins Jamieson, body found Spring 2011 in Thames River, Chatham.
♥ Therese Labbe, 47, body found in Mountjoy River in October 1989.
♥ Tricia Paquette, 8, murdered in Brantford, February 1978.
♥ Viola Melvin, 67, murdered in Toronto on April 14, 1977.
♥ Viola Panacheese, 42, missing from Sioux Lookout since August 1991.
♥ Virginia Carol Kitty, 46, missing from Swastika since March 2008.
♥ Virginia Nootchchtai, 31, missing from Whitefish, October 1988
♥ Vivian Cada, 53, found dead on June 30, 2005 in apt. at 285 Shuter St, Toronto.