The 18th Annual Strawberry Ceremony, a gathering in honour of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, trans and two spirit people, is taking place in Toronto on February 14.
Hundreds are expected to attend this gathering outside the Toronto police headquarters on Tuesday afternoon, to mourn those lost, and protest the complicity of the police in disproportionately high rates of violence faced by Indigenous people.
The gathering comes in the wake of continued violence against Indigenous women in Canada. Last year, four Indigenous women in Winnipeg: Rebecca Contois, Morgan Harris, Marcedes Myran, and a fourth woman who remains unidentified, were murdered by a 35-year-old white man. Winnipeg police have decided not to search for the missing bodies.
The final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, published in 2019, finally labelled this pattern of violence as genocide. However, the violence has not ceased — research suggests Indigenous women are 12 times more likely to be murdered or missing than other women in Canada.
The annual Strawberry Ceremony is hosted by No More Silence, an organization dedicated to gathering the names of missing and murdered Indigenous women since it was founded in 2004.
Strawberries are significant in many Indigenous cultures, known as a women’s fruit and a symbol of hope, and often referred to as the “heart berry” because of its shape. At previous Strawberry Ceremonies in Toronto, those in attendance received a strawberry and a small cup of water, which were consumed in memory of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
The 2023 Strawberry Ceremony will take place from 12:30pm-1:30pm outside of Toronto police headquarters at 40 College Street. Prior to the ceremony, the Native Women’s Resource Centre will be hosting a breakfast and signage-making event, followed by a community march to the police headquarters.