Thunder Bay

Families, advocates continue to speak out for MMIWG2S in Thunder Bay

Community members gathered in Thunder Bay on Tuesday to honour Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two Spirit individuals. Their walk began at city hall and travelled to the CLE Heritage Building.

Local hand drummers and singers sang songs of strength while walking in Thunder Bay on Tuesday

A group of individuals holding signs walk down on February 14th in support of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two Spirit
Individuals carry signs in solidarity with Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls, and their families, as they walk down May Street in Thunder Bay, Ont. (Sara Kae/CBC)

Families of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit individuals say more needs to be done to protect their loved ones. 

One way they did this was by taking part in the 16th annual Valentines Day Memorial Walk, to raise awareness of the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit individuals (MMIW2S). 

The march began Tuesday with an opening ceremonies and speeches inside city hall before walking down May Street in Thunder Bay, Ont. Many participants wore ribbons skirts and the colour red, carried hand drums, or sang songs of strength at the event. 

Kristine Carpenter was among the participants. Carpenter said this is the first time she's participated in the walk, and she felt it was important to bring her young daughter.

"My daughter's wearing a [ribbon] skirt too as well. It's important for you to show these types of activities to your baby from a young age. It's very important for her to learn where she comes from and what Canada's dealing with," she said, referring to the ongoing violence facing Indigenous women and girls. 

Individuals carrying signs while they walk down the sidewalk in support of MMIWG2S.
The community walked along muddy, icy streets from city hall to the CLE Heritage Building. (Sara Kae/CBC)

The Valentines Day Memorial Walk that takes place each February 14th is intended to spread awareness and remember those who have been lost.

About four in 10 Indigenous people experienced sexual or physical violence by an adult before the age of 15, according to the latest data from Statistics Canada 

The National Inquiry's final report into the violent deaths and disappearances of Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse people was released in 2019 and considers that violence to be genocide. According to the inquiry, Indigenous women and girls are 16 times more likely to be murdered or to disappear than white women. 

Women carry signs in support of MMIWG2S with pictures of individuals who have been effected.
Community members carry signs with pictures of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit individuals as they take part in the memorial walk. (Sara Kae/CBC )

Sharon Johnson founded the Thunder Bay walk 16 years ago, in honour of her sister whose body was found on a frozen Thunder Bay river in 1992. 

"I am hoping the walk will lead to more support for the families that have lost loved ones, and who are searching for loved ones to raise that awareness that this violence happens everywhere,"  she said. 

Johnson's experience is not unique. Others who participated in Tuesday's walk have a direct experience with losing a loved one. 

"It's personal. I have a daughter with mental illness and she fell through the loopholes. She has been missing three times. This is my avenue to speak, to show that it can happen to anyone. It can happen to me, it can happen to you, and we need to support each other," said Lynn Driver. 


Sara Kae


Sara Kae is an Ojibway/Cree reporter of Lake Helen First Nation based in Thunder Bay, Ont. She covers stories that highlight Indigenous voices with a special focus on arts and culture.