Theland Kicknosway, a 14 year old Pottawatami Cree youth from Walpole Island, is hosting his 4th Annual Run/Walk for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIW). Theland will be running and walking more than 130 kilometres from the Algonquin community of Kitigan Zibi to Gatineau Park to offer prayers for the MMIW within the Algonquin Territory and to raise awareness of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. We will join him on his last 2 km to show our support and to help him raise awareness of this important issue. We would love for other families to join us!
My 7 year old daughter attended the Ottawa Women’s March with me this year (we also organized a WCK Meet-up for that event!). As she was looking around at all the different signs that people were holding, one in particular caught her eye. It had a red dress on it. At first, she was very critical about this. She felt that the Women’s March was not about getting dressed up in fancy dresses, it was about making change happen, about getting things done. She asked me what was up with that sign. I quickly ran through exactly what I wanted to tell her about this symbol that represents Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW). I didn’t want to terrify her by giving her too much information. I didn’t want to get into all the details. I didn’t want to tell her that there are over 1,000 unsolved cases of missing Indigenous women and girls. I didn’t want to tell her about the Highway of Tears where too many Indigenous women and girls go missing. I didn’t want to introduce the idea of a serial killer and the terrible things he did on his pig farm just yet.
However, I once read something that changed my thinking on how much we should tell our children and how much we should shelter them. And it goes like this … the only reason that I am able to even consider how much to tell my children about a certain terrible situation is because of my white privilege. The Indigenous families do not get to shelter their children from the reality of the MMIW, because they see so many of their women go missing. Black families do not get to shelter their children from the disproportionate number of cases of police violence towards black men, because these children see it in their communities. After reading this, and letting it soak in, I felt that I actually do have a responsibility to tell my kids more than I might be comfortable telling them. I need to force myself to get uncomfortable.
Which leads me to one of the founding philosophies of WCK: You present a child with the facts about a real life situation at just the level they need. You don’t need to show them the terrible images on the 24 hour news channels. You don’t need to give them all the details. But you give them enough information to understand the situation. Then you give them an action they can take to help make the situation better. By doing this, you will empower them to believe that they can make the world a better place. Then, rather than being anxious and apathetic, we will raise our children to be passionate and engaged. We will raise them to be the leaders that our world desperately needs.
So, with all this in mind, this is how I chose to explain the red dress sign to my 7 year old daughter …. I told her that currently, if an Indigenous women goes missing, the media does not give her the same level of attention as the story would get if it were a white woman. I told her that if a young Indigenous girl goes missing, the authorities tend to just say she was a runaway and don’t put as much effort into her case as they would if the girl was white. If a young white girl went missing, it would be front page news until she was found. I told her that this is not right. And that we need to use our voices to say that we think that this is wrong. We need to say that we believe that everyone is equal and that we want this situation to change for the better. We want as much attention and effort put into finding missing Indigenous women and girls as anyone else would receive. We want more to be done.
She sat with that for a while. A few hours later she told me that next year for the Women’s March, she wants to paint a red dress on her poster. I said that if this was an issue that she felt passionate about, I could find other ways to help her get involved. She said she wanted to do that.
I knew that Theland does an annual run to raise awareness for MMIW. So when I saw the event go up on Facebook, I reached out to his mom to see if we could get involved. And this WCK Meet-up is what we worked out!
We would also like to help Theland reach his fundraising goal of $1,000 – if you want to run with us and make a donation, that would be super. But you could also just make a donation if you are not able to join us. Click here for the donation page:
For more information on this WCK Meet-up, you can visit the WCK event page we created: https://www.facebook.com/events/1915707631774905/
You can also visit Theland’s event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/540065839666147/
Please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you do plan on joining us so we can have an idea of who we should be expecting. Also feel free to email us if you have any questions about this. Hope to see you there!