Following the National Day of Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, Two-Spirit and Kin (MMIWG) on Oct. 4, activists are reminding northwest B.C. that actions need to speak louder than platitudes.
A Terrace grassroots organization hung red dresses at the Terrace Courthouse as reminders as a reminder to the community about the 231 calls for justice to arise from the MMIWG inquiry.
“The community needs to be reminded of the fact that we’re located on Highway 16,” said Hilary Lightening from Terrace-based organization Matriarchs in Training.
“It’s not just a day, but this issue needs accountability and awareness all year round and people need to be pressing their local governments to challenge and to change,” said lightening.
Talking about the recommendations put forth by the enquiry commission, Lightening said “there’s a lack of urgency behind the actions that have been committed to, which is unacceptable, given that the government has no issue with releasing funds, and moving things forward as long as it’s in their interest.”
“We need to see that aside from words on paper, these politicians actually care about the commitments that they’re making, and that they are moving them forward as quickly as they possibly can. The 231 calls for justice has been issued quite some time ago now, and you know we’re really not seeing anything from the government, while we’ve seen a $600 million election recently,” she said.
Drawing from examples in northwest B.C., Lightening said First Nation communities are still dealing with a lack of adequate public transportation. The region is also dealing with a lack of resources as far as mental health is concerned with no access to detox facilities and healing centres.
“The lack of those kinds of services are really obvious and to me they don’t really need a study to see that there’s like a disproportionate level of substance abuse issues, domestic violence within our Indigenous communities, and a response to that would be improved services or access to services for mental health and improving the state of poverty of families.”
Closer home to Terrace, Lightening pointed out the need for more vigilant steps to ensure the safety of women in the community, especially after a repeat offender from Okanagan was found to be working at the LNG Canada work camp site, last month.
Terrace being a transportation hub and a central community in the northwest, there’s an influx of traffic and work camps that can be anticipated owing to the many industrial projects in and around the area, she said.
“So, like there’s huge socio economic political impacts to all of these projects, and, you know, there’s definitely an influx of new people coming into the community that puts our women at risk,” said Lightening while advocating for vigilance from all levels of governments and law enforcement organizations.