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Members of the “90 Day Challenge” team making posters for the 10th Annual Strawberry Ceremony

By Shifa Tauqir, Member of the Mosaic Institute’s Student Advisory Committee

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On February 14th, students involved in the “90-Day Challenge Against Gender-Based Violence in Conflict” held their first awareness-raising action when they stood in solidarity with missing and murdered indigenous women and girls in Canada at the 10th Annual Strawberry Ceremony for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.

The “90 Day Challenge” is the community service project of the UofMosaic’s 2014 Citizen Summit on Women and Armed Conflict. In addition to maintaining an active social media presence to share stories of gender-based violence from around the world, the “90 Day Challenge” students are holding events to raise awareness about sexual and gender-based violence in conflicts around the world, and will be fundraising to support the work of the Stephen Lewis Foundation in the area of sexual violence and HIV/AIDS. In addition, the “90 Day Challenge” students are also actively working on their campuses to collect pledges in support of the International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict. Through these pledges, the students are calling for “urgent political leadership and concerted international action to prevent, protect, and prosecute to stop rape in conflict.”

The students’ participation in the Strawberry Ceremony was a way of highlighting the fact that gender-based violence knows no national borders. Any efforts to raise awareness about this issue internationally must include a critical reflection of the way in which this issue manifests itself in Canada.  According to statistics published by the RCMP in 2014, indigenous women are four times more likely to be murdered than non-native women[i]. The Strawberry Ceremony, organized by members of Canada’s aboriginal community, was an effort to rally public support for a national inquiry into the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. The event, which included drumming and chanting, featured powerful speeches by parents who have lost their daughters due to the ongoing violence against indigenous women.

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The 90-Day Challenge executive team at the 10th Annual Strawberry Ceremony for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Toronto on February 14th, 2015

In an effort to continue raising awareness about this issue, “90 Day Challenge” students will also be organizing a letter-writing day of action at Ryerson University in late March. This event will support Amnesty International‘s call for “a comprehensive, coordinated, and well-resourced National Action Plan, created in collaboration with Indigenous women and girls, to stop the violence”[i]. The event will also count on the support of Ryerson students taking a course entitled “Social Citizenship and Identity in Canada”, taught by Dr. Professor Sedaf Arat-Koc.

If you would like to become involved in the 90-Day Challenge Against Gender-Based Violence in Conflict, please contact the student leaders through their Facebook page or send an email to 90day.csp@gmail.com.

Stay tuned for more updates!

Young Peace Perspectives is a platform curated by the Mosaic Institute to highlight the experiences of young people in Canada who are working for peace, both in their communities and abroad.

 

[i] http://www.amnesty.ca/get-involved/take-action-now/canada-no-more-stolen-sisters-0

[i] http://www.amnesty.ca/our-work/issues/indigenous-peoples/no-more-stolen-sisters