By Christine Smith (McFarlane)
TORONTO – Hundreds gathered and braved the bitter cold in front of police headquarters in downtown Toronto on Feb. 14 to honour Indigenous women, girls, trans and two-spirit people who have died violent and premature deaths.
Audrey Huntley, one of the main organizers of the 10th Annual Strawberry Ceremony says, “We have been coming here for ten years and the violence has not stopped. It’s actually getting worse. When we were here last year – just a day before Loretta Saunders was murdered. She was pregnant and writing her thesis on the missing and murdered Indigenous women, and was preparing for the February 14 ceremony but she was murdered.”
“Last summer saw the horrible attack on Tina Fontaine, a 15-year-old girl whose body was pulled from the Red River in Winnipeg,” says Huntley. “She was only found when an Aboriginal man was trying to save another person from drowning, and they were dragging the river for him.”
“We are here to show that we care, we are here to express our love for Cheyenne Fox, for Terra Gardner, for Bella Laboucan-McLean and for all those who have been taken too soon.”
Protestors called on law enforcement to do more to prevent and solve violent crimes against First Nations women. Protestors drummed and stood with placards with the missing women’s names on them. After survivors stories were told, protestors marched down College Street where two round dances took place along the way to the local YMCA.
The 10th Annual Strawberry Ceremony was organized by a committee comprised of No More Silence, the Native Youth Sexual Health Network, Maggie’s and other Indigenous and feminist organizations working together to raise awareness about the disappearances of Indigenous women, girls, trans and two-spirit people on Turtle Island.