Indigenous

Native Women's Association of Canada launches interactive MMIWG map

The Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC) is launching an interactive map of cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls to collect data and help identify patterns of violence in geographic areas.

Users will also be able to enter more information about cases

NWAC's Safe Passage is an interactive online map showing the locations of cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse people. (NWAC)

The Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC) is launching an interactive map of cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls to collect data and help identify patterns of violence in geographic areas.

The project is called Safe Passage.

"Every day I talk to moms that have lost their children and they can't find them," said Lynne Groulx, NWAC's CEO. 

She said that as a mother herself she can't imagine not being able to find the remains of her child. 

The final report of the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls found a significant lack of data on cases.

"If we don't know the scope of the issue, then it's very hard to actually really deal with it," said Groulx.

So far, the map has been populated by just over 300 pinpoints where someone was last seen or remains have been found. 

Users will be able to click on a pin to get information about how many Indigenous women in that area have gone missing or have been killed.

Lynne Groulx is the executive director of the Native Women's Association of Canada. (NWAC)

The data to start the project was provided by CBC News.

According to Groulx, NWAC is also going through hundreds of cases that were part of a five-year project by its Sisters in Spirit initiative. It began in 2005 to collect cases and document statistics of violence against Indigenous women. It gathered approximately 500 cases.

"We needed to be able to continue that work," said Groulx.

She said if funding had continued for the project there could have been closer to 3,000 to 4,000 cases documented. 

She said people will be able to enter information about cases, and that information will be vetted before being added to the map. 

"I'm hoping that people will engage and go in and put critical information that might save somebody's life," she said.

Bridget Tolley, one of the co-founders of Families of Sisters in Spirit, a grassroots organization that supports the families of MMIWG, said any information that NWAC has, beyond what was provided by CBC News, should go to families and they should be the ones to decide what to do with it. 

"I don't feel it's right until they ask a family member if it's alright to post this information," she said.

NWAC partnered with Nanos Research Group of Companies to create the map.

"The Nanos Research mapping team is very proud to work together with NWAC to put a spotlight on the crimes against Indigenous women, girls and gender-diverse people," said Nik Nanos, chief data scientist and founder of the Nanos Research Group of Companies, in a news release.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rhiannon Johnson is an Anishinaabe journalist from Hiawatha First Nation based in Toronto. She has been with CBC since 2017 focusing on Indigenous life and experiences.

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