AMC Council of Elders Emphasizes the Sacredness of Life Amidst Alarming Rise in Homicide Rates

December 1, 2023

Treaty One Territory, Manitoba

AMC Communications

Treaty One Territory – The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) expresses deep concern about the drastic increase in homicide rates in Manitoba. In times of crisis, our cultural ceremonies, teachings, and the guidance of our Knowledge Keepers and Elders become crucial resources. Through these cultural ceremonies and the wisdom imparted by our Elders, representing various First Nations knowledges, we believe we can deter violence and work collectively to ensure the safety and security of one another.

Recently disclosed data from Statistics Canada indicates a 40 per cent escalation in Manitoba’s homicide rate, skyrocketing to 6.24 per 100,000 people from 2021. This figure stands in sharp contrast to the 2022 national average of 2.25 homicides per 100,000 people.  Further to this, Manitoba has one of the highest rates of homicide of Indigenous women and girls in Canada. In 2022, 20% of all homicide victims in Manitoba were identified as Indigenous. By late 2022, there were 52 Indigenous people murdered in this province, and 10 of these victims were Indigenous women or girls.

“Our Elders remind us to uphold the sacredness of life, drawing strength from our inherent teachings and traditions to create a safer world for us today and for the generations to come,” said Grand Chief Cathy Merrick. “We understand that conflict is a natural part of life, and we approach resolution through methods like talking circles and utilizing the guidance and ceremonies offered by our Elders. That wisdom guides us all, especially as Leaders, serving as a NorthStar in navigating the multitude of challenges we encounter. Their teachings, passed down through generations, show us how to live Mino-Bimaadiziwin (The Good Life), as well as how to face adversity and challenges.”

Today, the AMC Council of Elders shared the following wisdom and insights, emphasizing the importance of cherishing and respecting the lives of First Nations Peoples:

Elder Dennis White Bird beautifully affirms, “The breath of life is the most precious gift from the Creator.” Elder Sherry Copenace reminds us, “When we make that decision with Gizhe Manito and Nokomis to come to this earth, we embrace and make a promise to our individual and collective responsibility to respect and take care of all life, most especially our sisters, brothers, and children.” Elder Florence Paynter emphasizes, “Life is a precious gift given by the Creator, and only Gizhe Manitou can take that spirit back.”

As First Nations peoples, and in accordance with our own laws and traditions, we embrace the responsibility for each other’s well-being, acknowledging the intricate web of connections that bind us together. We recognize that the gifts bestowed upon us by the Creator are meant to be used with honour and respect, fostering a commitment to care for and protect one another with love and compassion, reflecting the values shared across the diverse First Nations in Manitoba.

In these trying times, the AMC and the AMC Council of Elders urge all individuals to reflect upon and honour these timeless teachings. By embracing the sacredness of life and extending love and respect to those around us, we can collectively combat the rising statistics of violence that disproportionately affect our Nations. Let us unite as First Nations people to foster understanding, build bridges of empathy, and create a safer future for all. Together, we can turn the tide of violence and honour the enduring strength of our shared values and traditions recognizing the unique contributions from each of our Nations. The violence we are perpetuating against ourselves and each other must come to an end.

For more information, please contact:

Communications Team
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

About the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

The AMC was formed in 1988 by the Chiefs in Manitoba to advocate on issues that commonly affect First Nations in Manitoba. AMC is an authorized representative of 62 of the 63 First Nations in Manitoba with a total of more than 172,000 First Nations citizens in the province, accounting for approximately 12 per cent of the provincial population. AMC represents a diversity of Anishinaabe (Ojibwe), Nehetho / Ininew (Cree), Anishininew (Ojibwe-Cree), Denesuline (Dene) and Dakota Oyate (Dakota) peoples.