Valentine’s Day is the day of love. 2013 Valentine’s Day is alsoCalgary’s Fifth Annual Valentine’s Day Women’s Memorial March for Murdered and Missing Women (Press-Release: Calgary Memorial March, 2013)
The Memorial March is in recognition of the disproportionate numbers of Aboriginal women who have never been found or have been murdered.
Alberta has the second highest cases of murdered and missing Aboriginal woman in Canada. Most of those are murder cases. (Native Women’s Association of Canada, 2012)
Aboriginal woman not only have high numbers of murder and kidnap, but they are disproportionately high at being diagnosed with HIV.
Statistically, Aboriginal woman are being diagnosed in the advanced stages of HIV which may lead to the AIDS label. They are being diagnosed at younger ages than their non-native counterparts. Majority of HIV diagnoses are from IDU use (Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network, 2011) or through heterosexual intercourse. (Emily Bridges, 2007)
These statistics are an indicator of how Canadian society treats Aboriginal woman. Aboriginal woman are more likely to experience: “poverty & low socioeconomic status; gender-based violence; historical trauma; biological susceptibility; gender imbalance & inequities; colonial depiction of Aboriginal Women; racism; stigma; discrimination and sexism; unresolved trauma related to sexual abuse; social exclusion; unequal opportunities for education; and unequal opportunities for access to healthcare.” (Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network, 2011)
How does this tie together?
Aboriginal woman may have difficulty accessing or trusting health care providers which delays testing and treatment. Condom negotiation becomes difficult for those who are in abusive relationships. They may have a lack of education and/or access to education about HIV and diseases. Attending distant social/ceremonial gathers increase unprotected sexual contact. (Emily Bridges, 2007)
As woman…how do we help ourselves?
Conversations of healthy sexual decision, by parents, is proven to delay first sexual experience and increase the use of contraceptives when engaging in sex.
Self-efficacy (the measure of one’s own ability to complete tasks and reach goals)helps develop healthy boundaries.
Being academically focused.
Having a positive native identity and belonging has a very strong effect with good sexual health.
Aboriginal woman in Canada face a very hard road, and to have our hardships recognized on such a beautiful day is very appropriate. It’s giving back to the woman who went on before us and showing ourselves and others that, yes, we are human and, yes, we deserve the right to be loved and respected. Recognizing murdered and kidnapped Aboriginal woman is essential to our healing. We also need to protect ourselves, not only physically, but sexually.
The Memorial March takes place Thursday, February 14, at 6 p.m. at Scarboro United Church, 134 Scarboro Ave. S.W., Calgary, Alberta.
Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network. (2011). FACT Sheet: Aboriginal Woman and Girls. Vancouver: Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network.
History. (n.d.). Valentine’s Day. Retrieved February 13, 2013, from The History Channel Website: http://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day
Native Women’s Association of Canada. (2012). Fact Sheet: Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women and Girls in Alberta. Ohsweken: Native Women’s Association of Canada.
Press-Release: Calgary Memorial March. (2013, February 12). Retrieved February 13, 2013, from Marketwire: http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/calgary-march-for-murdered-and-missing-women-set-for-february-14-1755905.htm