#AmINext: The Viral Campaign to Support Canada's Aboriginal Women
Since 1952, around 1,200 First Nations women in Canada have gone missing or been killed, according to a report by James Anaya, a former UN rapporteur. Under the hashtag #AmINext, thousands of people across the country are tweeting their solidarity and support for Canada’s Aboriginal women, and raising awareness of their plight. The campaign is aimed to force Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to mount a national investigation into the deaths of indigenous women.
The hashtag was sparked by a woman named Holly Jarrett. Jarrett’s cousin Loretta Saunders, a 26-year-old student working on her thesis on missing Aboriginal women, was murdered earlier this year.
“Our family is Inuit, and Loretta has now become one of the over 1186 missing or murdered Aboriginal women she was fighting for,” Jarrett wrote on her Change.org petition. “It is time for our government to address the epidemic of violence against Aboriginal women.”
The petition, which now has over 300,000 supporters, points out that aboriginal women are five to seven times more likely to die from violence. “The epidemic of racist and sexist violence against Aboriginal women in Canada is claiming lives and devastating families every month,” Jarrett wrote.
And her plea is gaining momentum. On Twitter, hundreds of users have posted their support for #AmINext, hoping to put the issue of violence against native Canadians in the spotlight. Many women posted pictures of themselves holding up signs posing the question.
No one should have to live in fear because of their gender or ethnic origin. #AmINext is a powerful way to call attention to the need for action. Hopefully, Canadian officials will pay attention.