2011. This is the fourth annual “Walk 4 Justice”, a cross-country walk to raise awareness of Canada’s dirty little secret — something to think about this Canada Day — the number of missing and murdered Indigenous women. Co-founded by Gladys Radek and Bernie Williams, these woman and others walk across Canada every year. That is dedication. That is the truth of women’s strength. They will walk.

The dead cannot, so they will walk for them. For all the missing and murdered Indigenous women across Canada. That is the strength of women, supporting women. Sisters in Spirit.

Walk 4 Justice’s mission statement is a declaration: “Aboriginal Women, our life-givers and their children, our future, are still suffering from generations of Canadian policy. A policy that is contrary to article 2 of the United Nations International Convention on Genocide. We are walking for justice, closure, equality and accountability…There is a dire need to address the discriminatory, racist practices that have taken place involving the police, politicians, the judicial system and societal acceptance of the horrendous crimes against humanity.”

The history is haunting. According to Walk 4 Justice, “Since our first walk, conditions have not improved for women in Canada. In our view, they have worsened. Women in Canada are still being raped, tortured, sold for sexual slavery and murdered at an alarming rate. Aboriginal women (according to Amnesty International) are three to four times more likely to be victims of violence than other Canadian women. In the Western provinces and including Ontario, more than 50% of the children in care are aboriginal. A recent study by the Children’s Advocate of B.C. found that; of 21 children murdered while in Ministry care, 15 were Aboriginal.”

Even relying on the more modest statistics from Native Woman’s Association of Canada (NWAC), the list of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada grows: Out a total of 582 cases, 393 died as a result of murder or negligence. And 115 remain missing. Only 53 per cent of the cases involving native women was someone charged, whereas the average rate for charges in a homicide in Canada is 84 per cent. Others like Gladys Redak predict the true numbers are much higher.

All these missing Indigenous women is tantamount to a continuing pattern of genocide. I want to re-assert — and yes, I will be saying this over and over until comfortable Canada listens — if as many white-skinned women were to disappear without even the whisper of justice, the reaction from mainstream Canada would be different.

I also want to reinforce that it’s not like Canada is unaware of the situation. Two years ago, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women issued this statement: “Hundreds of cases involving Aboriginal women who have gone missing or been murdered in the past two decades have neither been fully investigated nor attracted priority attention.”

Things have become more dire when the Harper government killed the Sisters in Spirit program on October 29, 2010, with the waif promise of something better. Promises. Promises. Promises.

Until justice comes, the women will walk.


For details of this year’s route, and where you can join up with the walk, please see here.

For more information on how to get involved, please see here.

For more information on the campaign for justice for murdered and missing women, please see:

Women’s Memorial March (B.C.)

Highway of Tears (B.C.)

Justice for Missing and Murdered (Montreal)

No More Silence (Toronto)

Native Women’s Association of Canada (Sisters in Spirit program)

Red Circle Alert

You also listen to this 2009 interview with Radek here.

Krystalline Kraus

krystalline kraus is an intrepid explorer and reporter from Toronto, Canada. A veteran activist and journalist for rabble.ca, she needs no aviator goggles, gas mask or red cape but proceeds fearlessly...