Hello, everyone. My name is April Eve. My traditional name is Medicine Spear Dancer. I'm from the Mikisew Cree First Nation, which is about 1,000 kilometres north of Edmonton. I'm the mother of a beautiful nine-month-old baby girl. I'm also the founder of the Edmonton Stolen Sisters Awareness Walk.
I'll give you a bit of background. In 2007 a small group of concerned citizens emerged in response to the hundreds and hundreds of missing and murdered indigenous aboriginal women across Canada. We started a grassroots movement, and from that an annual walk was created, the Stolen Sisters Awareness Walk. We are not funded by government or business. We are strictly a grassroots community-based volunteer group of everyday people. Many of us, including myself, have family members who have been taken, who are missing, or who have been murdered.
Many of us have a common life experience that consists of various forms of abuse, exploitation, etc., but we are not victims. We are survivors. We recognize that all cases of missing and murdered women are important. But the fact is, in Canada, in our communities, there are predators among us who are preying specifically on our women and children.
The statistics speak for themselves. These are some of the current research findings by the Native Women's Association of Canada. Some of you are already aware, I'm sure, of these findings, but it's important to recognize the harsh reality of targeted violence against aboriginal women and children. Aboriginal women, aged 25 to 44, are five times more likely to die of violence than are other Canadian women of the same age group. We experience violence by both aboriginal and non-aboriginal offenders. Our women also report experiencing more severe and potentially life-threatening forms of family violence than do non-aboriginal women, such as being choked, beaten, having a gun or a knife used against them, or being sexually assaulted. Aboriginal women and girls are also at an increased risk for homelessness. We are more likely to be killed by a stranger than are non-aboriginal women and girls. The majority of reported cases of missing and murdered aboriginal women involve young women and girls. Many are mothers. Most occur in urban areas, and nearly half the cases remain unsolved. In our group, we believe there's a strong link between domestic human trafficking and the cases of these missing and murdered women and children.
The Native Women's Association of Canada's mission is to help empower women. They identify that changes are needed to increase safety and lessen vulnerability of aboriginal women and girls. They believe that the violence against women ends with restoring a sacred position of aboriginal women as teachers, healers, and givers of life, and we couldn't agree more. With the Stolen Sisters Awareness Walk, we are trying to do our part to help raise awareness and to give a voice to those women and children whose lives have been taken, to those who are being sexually exploited, and to those who are still missing. In my own way, I am trying to help break the cycle of family violence, racism, and addiction.
We have been saying for the last few years that we would like to be more proactive with these causes and unite other organizations and people doing similar initiatives, so I'm honoured to share this with you today, on behalf of the Aboriginal Women's Professional Association, the City of Edmonton and the City of Edmonton's naming committee, the Prostitution Awareness and Action Foundation of Edmonton, the Memorial March for all the Missing and Murdered Women of Edmonton, the Stolen Sisters Awareness Walk, the Boyle Street Community League, the Edmonton Community Foundation, Edmonton city councillors Karen Leibovici, Ben Henderson, Linda Sloan, Kim Krushell, Mayor of Edmonton Stephen Mandel, and last but not least, the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister for the Status of Women.
We have all worked together and created our own committee to give a downtown avenue in Edmonton an honourary name to honour all missing and murdered women. The name chosen by the group is O Kisikow Way, o kisikow meaning “angel” in Cree. Syllabics for the Cree word o kisikow will be used in addition to the name to honour the past and present usage of the Cree language. The City of Edmonton's naming committee also supported the request to place a plaque along with the signage to educate and enhance the awareness of O Kisikow (Angel) Way.
The signage and christening for O Kisikow Way will be unveiled in May of 2011. This is in response to the request sent out from the City of Iqaluit, Nunavut, which was the first Canadian city to name a street Angel Street. Iqaluit is encouraging all capital cities in Canada to have a street named Angel Street to honour all the women who have been victims of violence. We are proud to say that Edmonton is now the second.
Thank you for the opportunity to be with all of you here today. We are hoping the federal government will do more research into the possible links between domestic human trafficking in these cases of missing and murdered women and children. We would also like to see a public service announcement that would be televised possibly across the nation to show and identify to the general public the dangers out there experienced by aboriginal women and girls.