On March 4, the Aboriginal Law and Feminist Law Students Associations at the University of Toronto organized a panel event titled “Violence Against Indigenous Women, Girls and Two Spirits: What’s the State of Law and the Role of Advocacy?” to discuss the socio-historical causes of violence against Indigenous women, girls and two-spirited people in Canada and what role, if any, the federal government plays in addressing the problem.
The panel was moderated by Audrey Huntley of No More Silence and featured: Christa Big Canoe, Legal Advocacy Director of Aboriginal Legal Services Toronto; Pam Palmater, Mi’kmaw Lawyer and Associate Professor at Ryerson University; and Mary Eberts, Litigation Counsel, Native Women’s Association of Canada and Adjunct Professor at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law.
The panel discussed the broad issues relating to violence against Indigenous women, girls and two-spirited people as well as practicable solutions to the problem. Part of the problem, they said, is a federal government and security apparatus that consciously refuses to consider the lives of Indigenous women important enough to act. The disrespect shown by the government, they said — disrespect manifested in the government’s ignoring expert recommendations to stop violence, and the Prime Minister’s statement that the issue is not a priority — is offensive to every Canadian, and it is up to every Canadian to take action in an effort led by the Indigenous women who live this experience every day.