Mi’kmaq people have been living in Mi’kmaki for thousands of years.
Mi’kmaki is made up of Nova Scotia, PEI and large parts of New Brunswick, the Gaspé Peninsula, Newfoundland and into the American state of Maine.
Pre-contact, Mi’kmaq people had our own territories, governance structures, economies, laws and political systems in which women, girls and Two-Spirit people played integral roles in the functioning of society, community and family.
Much of the role of women, girls and Two-Spirit people have been erased by history and very little research has been done by the Mi’kmaq to correct the information gaps.
Indigenous people in Canada, specifically women, girls and Two-Spirit people face high rates of sexual violence.
Colonialism, cultural genocide, intergenerational trauma, and racism, are some of the root causes that contribute to this lived reality.
Sexist and racist ideas about Indigenous women and Two-Spirit people send the message that people won’t notice or react quickly, or at all, if they are subjected to violence or go missing.
These attitudes contribute to the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women; one of the most brutal forms of sexual violence.
In fact, research has found that most cases will never be reported to police or officials.
The Nova Scotia Native Women’s Association has worked building upon its “Sisterness” approach to family violence and sexualized violence. The mother, sister, auntie approach works best in Mi’kmaq communities where the important first step is letting someone close to you know.
The high rate of sexual violence and abuse of children in residential schools have only been discovered as the children, now elders, found a safe forum to be together and share throughout the Truth and Reconciliation process in Canada.
Many only in their dying years were able to tell their stories.
Currently many mainstream approaches to addressing sexual violence are not culturally relevant or safe for Indigenous people.
Our communities continue to work together to create meaningful and much needed community-based programs. Programs that are based on Indigenous value, cultures and traditions.
Native Women’s Association of Canada said it well:
“Despite the many layers of trauma experienced by Aboriginal peoples throughout history and into today, Aboriginal women, men, their families and communities, continue to live and love, work, teach, protect, provide, hope, create and dream. It is a legacy of strength and resilience, one more powerful than colonialism.”