Kukpi7 Judy Wilson Statement: Their Spirit Lives Within Us.
My name is Kukpi7 Judy Wilson and I am proud to serve as Chief of Neskonlith Indian Band and Secretary Treasurer for the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. I would first like to start by expressing my deepest regrets for being unable to attend the 31st Annual February 14 Women’s Memorial March in person. My heart and spirit are with you, and I acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to introduce new and unforeseen distances and challenges we have had to bridge and overcome. However, in a time of social distancing and masks I believe that we are even more connected here today. We are all united by the deep gratitude, respect, and love we are paying to every survivor, ever family member, every single person touched by the crisis that has stolen the lives of our women, girls, two-spirit and trans people, but never our resilience and strength.
As we gather and march today to remember and honour the lives of missing and murdered women, and all women’s and gender-diverse peoples’ lives lost in the Downtown Eastside, we are all bound by the spirit of compassion, strength, and courage that they have passed to us. Their spirit lives within us, and it is what drive us to continue doing the critical work that is needed to keep our communities and families safe. I thank each and every one of you for gathering, in-person or in-spirit, to uplift and support one another as we work in solidarity to end the systemic violence that is disproportionately impacting our women, two-sprit and trans people.
I know the devastating pain and grief that comes with losing a loved one to the senseless violence, discrimination and oppression of the MMIWG2S+ crisis, and I have devoted over 25 years of my life to working alongside family and community members, survivors, grassroots organizations, and other advocates to support the work of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and to hold Canada accountable for its role in fueling colonial and gendered violence against our people. I continue to work with amazing allies, advocates, and organizations, particularly the Coalition on Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls, which is a network of grassroots organizations and individuals working to uphold justice for families of the murdered and disappeared. With the Coalition and countless fearless, resilient members of the community, we have all worked together to demand Canada and BC fulfill their obligation to implement the National Inquiry’s 203 Calls for Justice and end violence towards Indigenous women, girls, two-spirit, and trans people across Turtle Island. We will not stop until police and justice reform at all levels is achieved so that broken, colonial systems will no longer discriminate against us, discount our experiences and truths, and let that those harm our women, girls, and people walk free.
I know the work and advocacy we have collectively undertaken is a testament to our untiring drive to see a world in which Indigenous women, girls, two-spirit and trans people, families, and communities are no longer targeted by systemic violence and colonial state practices. Today we remember with love and joy the lives of those that are looking down on us now. We embrace their spirit that blazes within us, and we march on.