May 5th was MMIWG2S Awareness Day.
MMIWG2S stands for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.
Many posts and stories on Instagram were removed on this day, targeting those accounts that are dedicated to issues pertaining to Indigenous movements, awareness, and rights.
Indigenous women are six times more likely to be murdered than non-Indigenous women in Canada, writes Jessica McDiarmid in her book Highway of Tears: A True Story of Racism, Indifference, and the Pursuit of Justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. This book also highlights a span of highway less than 1,000 kilometers where women are murdered or go missing at a disproportionate rate.
The United States Department of Justice statistics states Native American women face a murder rate more than 10 times the national average.
I grew up in Northern British Columbia and witnessed how hard and endlessly these families searched for their relatives. I saw how difficult it was to simply bring awareness to these murders. I listened to a mother talking about how long she had to wait for RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) to believe that her daughter was missing.
These disappearances are horrifying and heart-wrenching.
Promises have been made and continually broken between settlers and the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island. Mike Leach’s book Geronimo speaks to this pattern between the Apache and settlers. This recent erasure of an effort to bring awareness on social media is traumatizing those who have been perpetually traumatized by this system.
When are people going to start giving a f*ck?
When are people going to stand beside these families with integrity and say, “No more stolen sisters!”
Empty words from the government and plans left sitting on someone’s desk are not protecting our Indigenous women. These women who go missing are part of communities trying to rebuild after having their culture, language, and way of life stripped from them.
Now they have to face censorship on bringing awareness to this pressing issue? The accounts that highlight these issues are often made by people who themselves have lost a relative, sometimes more than one. They relive these tragic losses day after day to bring awareness to the world.
I believe we have a responsibility to the Indigenous people of this planet by learning how to live in right relationship with the land and the people around us. In Canada, many of us live on unceded territory and have little knowledge of the true history of our country. Instagram needs to be held accountable for this censorship. It is violence to silence these voices.
It is time we educate ourselves on these issues and learn how to truly support MMIWG2S.
Here are five Indigenous Instagram accounts to follow to learn more: