A message from Ramona Lumpkin, Interim President and Vice-Chancellor

Dear MSVU students, faculty and staff,

Across Canada and the United States, the National Day of Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people is marked for many on May 5 and for some on October 4.

The data are clear: Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ * people are at significantly increased risk of violence.

  • About six in 10 Indigenous women have experienced some form of intimate partner violence in their lifetime, compared with four in ten non-Indigenous women.
  • Overall, Indigenous women (42%) are almost twice as likely as non-Indigenous women (22%) to experience physical abuse by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
  • LGBTQ2S Indigenous women (86%) are more likely to experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime compared with non-LGBTQ2S Indigenous women (59%).

(Source: Statistics Canada)

It’s a tragedy of devastating proportions, and the source of significant inter-generational trauma. And it’s an issue at the intersection of racism, colonialism and misogyny, all of which must end.

In June of this year, the National Action Plan to end violence against Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people was released. The plan was developed in response to the 2019 National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and the Métis Perspectives of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and LGBTQ2S+ People report by Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak.

The plan features seven goals designed to give priority to the perspectives of survivors and families as we seek to transform societies, and the structures and systems that underpin them, to help end this violence. As reflected in MSVU’s strategic plan, we will continue to consider how best MSVU can have an impact on this critical issue. We all have a role to play.

A few years ago, the MSVU Art Gallery hosted the Walking With Our Sisters memorial art installation. Walking With Our Sisters honours missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, Two-Spirit people and their families through ceremony, community and reflection. It presents more than 1,800 pairs of moccasin tops (vamps) made by contributing artists and arranged in a winding path formation. The moccasins are unfinished, symbolizing over 1,180 sisters, mothers, aunties, daughters, cousins, grandmothers, wives and partners whose lives were tragically cut short over the last 30 years. More than 100 pairs of children’s vamps are also included, representing the children who never returned home from residential school.

The MSVU Art Gallery website features a summary of the installation, including photos of some of the pairs of vamps and an interview with Métis artist Christi Belcourt. You can watch the interview and read more about the installation here.

Mental health and community-based cultural supports are available if you or someone you know has been affected by this issue:

Ramona Lumpkin, CM, PhD
Interim President and Vice-Chancellor
Mount Saint Vincent University

MSVU is located on unceded ancestral Mi’kmaq territory. This territory is covered by the Covenant Chain of Treaties of Peace and Friendship signed between 1725 and 1779. We pay respect to the knowledge embedded in the Indigenous custodians of this land and to the Elders, past, present, and future.

* 2SLGBTQIA+ is an acronym for two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual while + stands for other ways individuals express their gender and sexuality outside heteronormativity and the gender binary.