by: Ashley Quinton
News and Politics Writer
Attention was drawn to the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women at the University of Windsor this week as part of the national day of awareness.
The Native Student Alliance, the Aboriginal Education Centre, and the Indigenous Initiative organized the event to bring awareness of missing and murdered Indigenous women and to support the families of those whose lives have been lost.
Stephanie Pangowish, an Indigenous Initiative representative, and first-year law student says this is a crisis in our country. “We are, as Indigenous people, under protected and over-policed. Our Indigenous women have had stereotypes around them, such as not being worthy of protection and that is a massive issue.” Pangowish says, “I as an Indigenous woman are three times more likely to be harmed by violence as a non-Indigenous woman and for it to be accepted in our society is a major issue.”
Some 100 students, staff, faculty and community members joined hands and participated in a round dance in the Student Centre commons.
Admira Konjic, VP of Student Advocacy says these campaigns help students learn what they may not be able to in a classroom. “This kind of intimate event is what gets people going that’s where they get a deeper understanding to why they are here and where they are coming from.” Konjic was moved by the round dance as everyone joined hands, “It’s very powerful in nature, it got everybody moving, psychically and emotionally. It’s really empowering.”
The groups distributed red ribbons around campus marked with the names of the missing and murdered Indigenous women. Pangowish says sometimes people are unaware it has been happening in so close to home too. “I really want people to know this is happening in Ontario and in their own backyard and has been happening for decades.”
Kat Pasquach, the Aboriginal Outreach and Retention Coordinator at the Aboriginal Education Centre says learning about aboriginal issues is part of every student’s education “in some capacity everybody is going to come into an encounter with an Indigenous population whether as colleagues, customers, clients, whatever it may be it’s important to know what’s going on so you can be a better ally to the issues going on.”
Pasquach says everyone can make a difference. “If someone is going into politics someone can help write policy to aid in removing barriers in our legal system, policies in social services, healthcare. As someone who may be taking education on campus, bringing knowledge they learned at an event like this into a classroom, where they are teaching is going to be very powerful moving forward.”
The Aboriginal Education Centre is located in the CAW in room 179.
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