"On March 8 , Toronto's Church of the Redeemer hosted a teach-in on missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls in Canada. Black signs ... bore the names and ages of murdered women. Keynote speaker Dr. Dawn Lavell-Harvard, vice-president of the Native Women's Association of Canada, outlined challenges faced by aboriginal females -- from poverty and predators to racism and systemic oppression. 'Our women experience greater rates of poverty, incarceration, child welfare apprehension, more violence' she said. 'They are more likely to go missing, more likely to be murdered and less likely to ever see justice'." The Native Women's Association of Canada has documented the cases of more than 600 missing or murdered women, and is tracking them at a rate of three to four new cases each month". Lavell-Harvard expressed anger at the federal government's refusal to call a national inquiry into murdered and missing women".
In a presentation to the Council of General Synod (CoGS) on 11 November 2017, Ryan Weston, the church's lead animator of public witness for social and ecological justice described "the work the national church has been undertaking to fight human traffficking since CoGS voted last June  to endorse an anti-human trafficking resolution passed by the Anglican Consultative Council in 2012". Because of the scale of the problem it was decided, firstly, "that the church should focus on fighting human trafficking in its connection with missing and murdered Indigenous 'women and girls, and men and boys', Weston said". Secondly, "[t]he church will also focus on the issue of sexual exploitation, which is related, he said, since an estimated 50% of the women and girls being trafficked for se in Canada are Indigenous". "A third focus of the work, Weston said, will be issues around the federal government's Temporary Foreign Worker Program, which allows Canadian employers to hire foreigners for short-term work".
"In the wake of the federal government's [7 March 2014] report 'Invisible Women: A Call to Action, a report on missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada', the Anglican Church of Canada has pledged to help break the silence on this grave issue. In a joint statement, the primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, and National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald endorsed the recommendation to engage First Nations communities in improving front-line services for victims of violence on reserves. They also expressed support for a nationwide public awareness and prevention campaign on violence against aboriginal women and girls in Canada. They faulted the report, however, for falling 'short of completing the circle of concern', because it does not recommend a comprehensive public inquiry". "The Native Women's Association of Canada has put the number of known cases of missing or murdered aboriginal women and girls at 668, but says the number could be as high as 800".
The author considers "the over 600 missing and murdered indigenous women -- women who died because of their vulnerability to violence, women whose deaths seem neither to be mourned nor even noticed by the government of Canada and the majority of the Canadian public. There are close to one and a half million indigenous people in Canada, slightly more than the population of Ottawa. Imagine if 600 women from Ottawa were to disappear in a similar fashion. Would the government -- or anyone -- tolerate their disappearance ? Wouldn't we work urgently and tirelessly until every woman was accounted for, until all women were safe ?" "We are sadly, witnesses of such hideous evil -- certainly, in the growing worldwide poverty, which so disproportionately impacts women and children, but just as really and dramatically in the indigenous women whose tragic lives have been denied justice".
Author is "national indigenous bishop of the Anglican Church of Canada".