Beginning on Monday, May 31 and every Monday throughout the month of June, the Church of the Redeemer’s bell will toll seven times at noon every four seconds to honour the missing Indigenous women and girls across Canada. The number seven is to acknowledge the Seven Grandfather Teachings, while the four seconds is in reference to the four directions of The Medicine Wheel.
In a 2014 report, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) acknowledged that there have been more than 1,200 missing and murdered Indigenous women between 1980 and 2012. Indigenous women’s groups, however, document the number to be over 4,000. The confusion about the numbers has to do with the under-reporting of violence against Indigenous women and girls and the lack of an effective database, as well as the failure to identify such cases by ethnicity by Statistics Canada.
For example, Indigenous women 15 years and older were 3.5 times more likely to experience violence than non-Indigenous women, according to the 2004 General Social Survey. Violence against Indigenous women and girls is not only more frequent but also more severe. Between 1997 and 2000, the homicide rate for Indigenous women was nearly seven times higher than the rate for non-Indigenous women.
By making our bell be heard throughout our community, we hope to spread more awareness of this issue during National Indigenous History Month.