International Women’s Day has an even greater meaning for one Fort St. John woman.
Amnesty International is recognizing indigenous activist Connie Greyeyes today, one of eight women from around the world being recognized by the group for “battling on the frontline to claim their rights, refusing to wait in the face of injustice."
“I feel like I’ve come so far from being a drug addict, from being an alcoholic and having nothing. It’s possible to do anything if you have the right supports in place," Greyeyes said.
Greyeyes is being recognized for her work raising awareness and demanding justice for missing and murdered indigenous women in the region and across Canada.
Greyeyes says she’s pleased the federal government is finally taking the steps to address the safety of indigenous women and girls by launching a national inquiry. She noted that the government is working to get liaisons talking with the families of these women, including those in Northeast B.C.
“It’s important that we continue to make sure families and voices in the northeast are heard,” she said.
“Sometimes we get lost because of how vast B.C. is and the serious cases here, with Pickton, with the Downtown Eastside, with the Highway of Tears. It’s important that we continue to talk about it, to make sure that the families in this region get to be heard in the inquiry.”
An indigenous woman is five times more likely to go missing or be murdered than a non-indigenous woman, Greyeyes said.
“Those stats don’t lie, that’s for real. It’s a reality for us," she said.
Part of moving forward will be to break the stereotypes that surround indigenous women.
“From my experiences here, being followed in the store, being asked if I’m going to pay for something,” she said. “Those stereotypes attached to our women are the stereotypes that make us more vulnerable.”
Greyeyes isn’t the only global ambassador from the Peace Region—Helen Knott was recognized last year by the Nobel Women’s Institute for her activism to protect indigenous women.
Learn more about Greyeyes, and other women being recognized around the world today by visiting Amnesty International's website.