Local Manitoba organization uses power of images in fight for Indigenous women’s safety

One local organization is using the power of images to fight for the rights and the safety of Indigenous women, and to remind the public that when women are victims of violence, the effects are felt throughout families and communities.

“It is about going beyond the statistics and beyond seeing victims as unknown individuals,” Manitoba Moon Voices (MMV) board member Albert McLeod said about a photo campaign kicked off by the Winnipeg-based organization last week.

“And it’s about looking a little more in-depth about these experiences and these women, and showing that they were loved and had friends and family who cared for them.”

Starting last Monday MMV, a not-for-profit organization that works in a number of ways to empower Indigenous women in Manitoba, began posting photos on their Facebook page of people and families who have lost loved ones to violence.

McLeod said the campaign, which will continue posting pictures in the coming weeks and months, is also a direct call for more to be done on the 231 Calls to Action in the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

Those Calls to Action call for changes to a number of institutions here in Canada including policing, health care, and government, all with the goal of making a society that is safer for Indigenous women and girls.

McLeod said each family profiled will be tied directly to some of the Calls for Action in the report, as a way to show that these changes that are being called for are needed to help real people and families.

“We are taking families that have been affected by violence towards women and tying them to these calls, because that is far more powerful than simply seeing the calls for actions listed in a document,” McLeod said.

“The 231 Calls for Action can be hard to wrap your head around because it is a long list, so we thought the best way to educate people was to work with families, and use their lived-experiences to highlight why these calls are so important.”

In 2015, sisters Victoria, Lyndie, and Angel Dorie lost their mother, 32-year old Crystal Lynn Dorie, when she was found dead inside a Pembina Highway hotel room from what Winnipeg Police have told the family was a suicide.

Victoria admitted while speaking to the Winnipeg Sun this week that her family has been frustrated with the response from police looking into what happened to their mother, and with the way police have dealt with her family since her mom passed away.

She said she and her sisters took part in the MMV photo campaign to get the point across that much more needs to be done to educate law enforcement on ways to better deal with and work with Indigenous women.

In the post on MMV’s Facebook page an image of the Dorie sisters is posted with a caption reading, “the Dorie family lost a loved one and believes that specialized police services with the capacity and resources to keep Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people safe is required.”

MMV said they are still looking for families to be featured in their campaign, and anyone interested in inquiring can contact Albert McLeod by calling the MMV main phone line at 204-942-1828.

In the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous women and girls section 9.4 calls for specific policing reforms stating, “We call upon non-Indigenous police services to ensure they have the capacity and resources to serve and protect Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people. We further call upon all non-Indigenous police services to establish specialized Indigenous policing units within their services located in cities and regions with Indigenous populations.”

— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

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