Who: The Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto, with Forsman & Bodenfors for strategy and creative; Veritas for PR; PHD Canada for media.
What:“4,000 Cover Stories,” a new campaign that tells the stories of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls who have been forgotten, overlooked or ignored by Canadian politicians, police services, and the media.
When & Where: The campaign kicked off with a rally at the Ontario legislature on Wednesday featuring a newsstand with copies of a massive newspaper—each eight inches thick and weighing 25 pounds—containing 4,000 stories of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls over the last 30 years.
A copy of the newspaper was delivered to the Prime Minister’s residence on Oct. 4, the National Day of Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Forsman & Bodenfors is also working with the Native Women’s Resource Centre to get a copy of the newspaper into an Indigenous museum or library.
While it’s largely a PR-driven initiative—it has already been covered by major media outlets including CTV, CBC and Global—a video overview of the campaign is running on the Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto’s social channels, while PHD Canada secured donated out-of-home from both UB Media and Vendo Media.
Why: Indigenous women and girls are 12 times more likely to be murdered than any other demographic group in the country, with more than 4,000 women and girls missing or murdered over the last 30 years. However many of these deaths have never been widely reported on by the media or acted on by police.
“These are 4,000 cover stories that never ran. 4,000 stories that should have led the nightly news, but never aired. 4,000 lives lost too soon,” said a press release announcing the project. “4,000 families shattered, left to pick up the pieces. And 4,000 cases that should have been investigated with every law enforcement resource available, but were not taken seriously, and in most cases left unresolved.”
And while the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls contained 231 “Calls for Justice” to be taken by governments and Canadians to end the genocide, the Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto said that little has been done.
“We’ve lost 4,000 Women and Girls to racism and violence,” said Pamela Hart, executive director of the Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto. “We know the real number is much higher. But how many will have to die before this country pays attention to what is happening? Is it 10,000? 20,000? How many of us have to die before we are treated with the same dignity and respect that every Canadian deserves?”
Darby Clarke, senior copywriter with Forsman & Bodenfors, said the campaign is intended to be “a massive call to action” for the federal government.
How: Clarke and other Forsman & Bodenfors staffers read through court documents from the National Inquiry, as well as parsing local media coverage, to assemble and write stories of Indigenous women and girls who have gone missing or been murdered. “Probably every creative at the agency touched it at some point,” said Clarke, who worked on the project for more than a year with her creative partner Alexandra McGuirk-Penedo.
All of the stories were then compiled in a newspaper bearing a cover that reads “The stories of Canada’s Indigenous genocide will no longer go unwritten.” In addition to the story of each missing or murdered woman a girl, the newspaper pages feature a pair of QR codes. When scanned, one takes viewers to a dedicated page on the Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto website, while the other pre-populates an email to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calling for him to begin enacting the 231 Calls for Justice.
And we quote: “Over the last 30 years in Canada, more than 4,000 Indigenous Women and Girls have gone missing or been murdered. Their stories are underreported, under-investigated and undervalued by a nation built on genocide. The time for complicity and silence is over. We must know their stories and fight for justice.” — Pamela Hart, executive director, Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto