everal hundred people gathered midday on Tuesday at the Toronto Police Service headquarters downtown in honour of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit people. Dozens of demonstrators held signs memorializing those who had died or gone missing, with various demands for the justice system to stop neglecting these cases.
The rally was organized by the grassroots group No More Silence. An organizer explained on the mic that February 14 was chosen as the day of commemoration in solidarity with Indigenous women who have been carrying on a similar demonstration, the Memorial March, since 1992.
A handful of speakers told the crowd about their history and relationships with people who had gone missing or were killed. Joey Twins, an Indigenous activist and outspoken community member, shared her story with the crowd.
“I’m a product of the 60s scoop, residential schools,” she said. Twins grew up in Alberta before coming to Ontario. “I’ve dealt with addiction, all of that. I’ve been there.” She added that healing from her traumas has been a long, self-directed process within the community. “It’s an inside job.”
Organizers highlighted the recent scandal in Winnipeg around murdered Indigenous women in late 2022. Winnipeg Police say Morgan Harris and Mercedes Myran’s remains are believed to be in the Prairie Greens landfill. Despite this suspicion and community pressure, police said they will not attempt to retrieve their bodies. The Facebook event by No More Silence describes Mayor John Tory’s proposed $48.3 million increase to the Toronto Police Service budget as contributing to, “over-policing and under-protection of our communities.”
Early on in the gathering, organizers distributed strawberries and water in small cups to attendees. The speaker explained the significance of water in all stages of human life and invited people to drink, spill some on the land, and eat the strawberries together.
The demonstration ended with several songs, followed by a march to Yonge Street and College Street. The intersection was occupied for an hour while songs were played during a round dance.