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Community led database launched for missing and murdered women

Friday August 8, 2014

A community led database that documents the lives of missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada has been launched.

The website, It Starts With Us-MMIW, is organized by three groups: No More Silence, Families of Sisters in Spirit and the Native Youth Sexual Health Network.

The website came online a few days shy of the first anniversary of Bella Laboucan-Mclean’s death.

Bella Laboucan-Mclean, from Sturgeon Cree Lake First Nation, died last July after falling 31 storeys at a condominium in downtown Toronto, a death considered suspicious by the police.

Melina Laboucan-Massimo says the family still doesn’t have any answers about her death.

“This new website and database gives families like ours the ability to not only document the lives of our loved ones but also commemorate and celebrate their lives and achievements,” said Laboucan-Massimo in a press release.

Erin Konsmo, from the Native Youth Sexual Health Network, says launching the website on the anniversary of her death brings back the attention that there is still no justice.

“Bringing back attention to the fact there’s still been no justice from the police was important because in many cases indigenous women and girls are lost from our communities, and there’s no justice,” said Konsmo. “It’s really important for us to have that reminder.”

Audrey Huntley from No More Silence says the website helps families that have lost a loved one by giving them the space to memorialize them.

“I know from all the years of doing this work that family members really have that need, and it has been reinstated to us over and over again that they do want, not just to hear about the grisly deaths, but to have their lives honoured,” said Huntley.

“I don’t think families ever get over these kinds of losses, but I’m told that it’s helpful to have the space to at least remember,” said Huntley.

Huntley also explained that media coverage of missing and murdered Aboriginal women has been “overwhelming” this year.

“Things have changed since when we started doing this work and no one ever reported on these issues. Things have changed in that. We do get media attention. This year has been overwhelming in the amount of media attention the issue has seen. But unfortunately, that has done nothing to lessen the rates of violence,” said Huntley.

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