Five indigenous people have embarked on a walk across the entire country of Canada to bring awareness to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, #MMIW, #MMIWG. The walkers made the decision last December to leave behind their jobs and families to bring attention to the issue.
The 17,300 km or 10,750 mile MMIW Awareness Walk started on December 23rd in the Ontario Ojibway First Nation community of Neyashiinimiing. The walk was organized by community resident E Naad Maa Get, who says his group plans on walking through every road-accessible province and territory of Canada to raise awareness for the murdered and missing.
The group, which consists of Jasmine Maytwayashing, Tianna Fillo (Niibin), E Naad Maa Get, Jacqueline Hines and Creedence McComb, also meet with families to hear their stories.
“We’re bringing awareness slowly to Canada and its communities – we want to show solidarity for these families of the murdered and missing (Indigenous women),” said Maa Get to the Winnipeg Sun. “We are aware that we won’t be able to walk for every woman, but we try to bring awareness to as many women as we can so that we can honor them in the best way possible.”
With over 2,000 km or 1243 miles completed, the group arrived in Winnipeg on Wednesday and has been speaking with families. The group leaves Winnipeg on Sunday morning to continue their walk across Canada.
Ultimately their goal is to walk across the entire country from sea to sea to sea.
The group has received support and are often joined by other walkers and families from across Canada who wish to join them in raising awareness. But they have run into great struggles.
According to Maa Get, “The Walkers have had a rough time in the last little while. We struggled through winter along the north shore of Lake Superior. Our old Winnebago van broke down east of Kenora. And our walk through Thunder Bay was marred by racial slurs and refuse thrown from cars.”
They are thankful to community members from across Canada who have donated gasoline, and repairs to the RV. They had a GoFundMe page, but took down the page when the site also solicited donations to support for the man acquitted in the shooting death of Colten Boushie, an Indigenous man from Saskatchewan.
“Each day we walk in a prayerful manner for one of the murdered or missing. We have that person in our minds as we walk. And we re-tell her story on our Facebook page, and on Twitter@danamaamin (#prayerwalk). In this way, we remind ourselves why we walk so far from home, and we keep these women and their stories in the minds of Canadians.”
Their logo, designed by Nawash artist Polly Keeshig-Tobias, is of a woman clothed in red cloth (in keeping with the REDress symbol). It is sewn with megis shells, sacred to the Great Lakes Anishinaabek. The flowers represent the Indian Paintbrush, known in Ojibwe as ‘Grandmothers Hair’.
E Naad Maa Get, Branden Emmerson says he refers “Da-namaamin moseyang giw-ganchigaazjig kwewag is Ojibwe for ‘we will walk in prayer for those murdered women.’
Follow Indian Country Today’s associate editor and senior correspondent, Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter -@VinceSchilling