The Sisters in Spirit (SIS) is a movement that started in Canada to bring awareness about the disproportionately high rates of violence against Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit individuals. It movement aims and advocates for justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit individuals (#MMIWG2S) while also addressing the underlying systemic issues that contribute to the crisis.
Brief History of the SIS movement:
Foundation and Early Years (2005 - 2010): The SIS initiative was established by the Native Women's Association (NWAC) in 2004. NWAC worked to collect data and stories related to MMIWG2S and to raise awareness about the issue. The findings determined over 582 Aboriginal women and girls were missing and murdered in Canada.
Advocacy, Awareness and Justice: Over the years, SIS continued as a grass-roots movement, continuing to raise awareness about the violence faced by Indigenous women and girls. Across Turtle Island, many vigils, marches and community gathers were held to honour, remember and commemorate those who were missing and murdered.
Research and Data Collection: One of the significant contributions of the SIS initiative was the extensive research into the cases of MMIWG2S, to collect data, studies and reports. As a result, several reports were produced highlighting the systemic factors contributing to violence against women and the human rights issue.
Defunding and Closure (2010): In 2010, the Canadian government announced it would not be renewing funding for the SIS initiative.
Legacy and Ongoing Advocacy (Post-2010): Despite the closure of the Sisters in Spirit program, the movement's legacy continues to influence advocacy efforts for Indigenous women's rights and safety in Canada. Many organizations, activists, and communities continue to work towards justice and systemic change in honor of the original Sisters in Spirit initiative. In 2017, Manitoba is the first province to make October 4 an official day to honour MMIWG.
On October 4th, we honour and remember the lives of MMIWG2S across Turtle Island. Our communities host vigils, gatherings, marches/walks, rally or have a moment of silence to raise awareness and to provide support to families and communities who have lost loved ones.
The SIS moment calls upon Canada to find justice for the Indigenous women and girls that have been taken from us, while also rectifying the systemic and discriminatory pitfalls found within legislation, institutions and our society.
The SIS movement calls upon all levels of government, to help ensure safety and well-being of First Nations women and girls through education, awareness, housing, clean water, community infrastructure, and ultimately continuing to address the socio-economic gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.
The SIS movement calls upon everyone to stand up and honour the MMIWG, families and communities by shifting to action, justice, acknowledgement and change.
Amnesty International (2004) Stolen Sisters: Discrimination and Violence Against Indigenous Women in Canada
Amnesty International (2009) No More Stolen Sisters: The Comprehensive Response to Discrimination and Violence Against Women in Canada
Native Women's Association of Canada (2009) Voices of Our Sisters In Spirit: A Report to Families and Communities
Native Women's Association of Canada (2010) What Their Stories Tell Us: Research findings from the Sisters In Spirit initiative
National Inquiry to MMIWG (2019) Calls for Justice
Families of Sister in Spirit (Facebook)
CBC News (2023) A Report Card on the MMIWG Inquiry's Calls for Justice