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Breaking the Silence links violence in Guatemala and the need for a MMIW inquiry


Barlow in Guatemala.

Barlow in Guatemala

The Council of Canadians North Shore chapter has sent out an appeal to their supporters asking them to take action to back a national inquiry on murdered and missing Indigenous women. The chapter wrote, “We hope people will call or email their Member of Parliament and ask them to support a national inquiry.”

The North Shore of Nova Scotia includes Antigonish, Colchester, Cumberland, Guysborough and Pictou counties.

Five members of the North Shore Committee of the Maritimes – Guatemala Breaking the Silence solidarity network have taken up that call and sent letters to the editors of the Pictou Advocate, the Chronicle-Herald, the Truro Daily News, the Antigonish Casket and the Amherst News.

In those letters, they wrote, “We are aware that a high percentage of Indigenous women in Guatemala are victims of violence, disappearance and murder. The Guatemalan government generally ignores this violence. We are alarmed that a similar reality exists in Canada, with a similar response by the Harper government, despite many calls for a national inquiry into the missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada. …We urge our North Shore MPs, Justice Minister Peter MacKay and Scott Armstrong, to convince Prime Minister Harper to meet with the families of the missing and murdered women on February 26th and announce a national inquiry at that time. Any further delay is inexcusable.”

In September 2011, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow visited Guatemala and stated, “The people of Guatemala have absolutely no recourse from this continued abuse, either from their own police, the courts or government, or from the Canadian government whose sole mandate around mining is to promote the interests of our mining industry around the world.” Barlow has spoken about the violence associated with Goldcorp’s Marlin mine in Guatemala, as well as the violence against women related to HudBay Minerals in Guatemala.

Activists Patricia Ardón and Orfe Castillo have written, “For women, all this implies a heavier workload, persecution, facing militarization that revives the horrors of the war – we see soldiers and it generates terror because we know what happened to our mothers, our aunts.” And Nobel Peace Prize recipient Jody Williams has commented more widely, “Increasingly, private security firms being hired by mining companies, mega projects and the business elite in Honduras are also behind the extreme violence against women.”

For more about the Maritimes – Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network, please visit their website here.

To add your voice to the call for a national inquiry on murdered and missing Indigenous women, please click here.