Vigil sheds light on miss­ing and mur­dered indigenous women

Prairie Post (West Edition) - - Alberta - BY DALE WOODARD

Indigenous women and girls who have gone miss­ing and mur­dered were re­mem­bered in a vigil Oct. 4.

The Sis­ters In Spirit Vigil hon­oured the lives of Miss­ing and Mur­dered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two Spir­ited and brought aware­ness to the vi­o­lence ex­pe­ri­enced by Indigenous women and girls in Canada.

At Leth­bridge City Hall, El­der Wendy English gave a prayer fol­lowed by a song be­fore the cer­e­mony moved down 4 Av­enue South to Galt Gar­dens for more speak­ers and a can­dle­light vigil.

For the mem­ber of Pi­ikani Na­tion, the Sis­ters In Spirit Vigil hits close to home for English.

“I had a cou­ple of grand­chil­dren that were bru­tally mur­dered five years ago and since I’ve been par­tic­i­pat­ing in this event,” she said. “Also, I had a niece that was also bru­tally killed in Cal­gary. Her body was dis­mem­bered and some of her parts were at the land­fill and all over the banks of Cal­gary and they didn’t find all her body. The guy that mur­dered her got away. He got so many years and now he’s walk­ing a free man.”

The vig­ils take place in com­mu­ni­ties across Canada as well as in­ter­na­tion­ally.

“This is our 14th annual,” said Amanda Scout, a Sis­ters In Spirit Vigil plan­ning com­mit­tee mem­ber.

“We are hon­our­ing the miss­ing and mur­dered Indigenous women and re­mind­ing peo­ple to keep that in mind that there have been in­quiries and rec­om­men­da­tions, but af­ter that, no ac­tion.”

Scout is also on the Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Com­mit­tee and has worked with the City of Leth­bridge.

“We have gone through the rec­om­men­da­tions thor­oughly and we’ve brought them to city coun­cil. There are 25 we feel that the City of Leth­bridge can act on. It’s just about creat­ing safe spa­ces and get­ting the re­sources for women who might be at risk.”

Scout said she be­lieves the word is get­ting out.

“Of course, it could al­ways be bet­ter and we would like to see more ac­tion. But it’s be­ing ad­dressed and we have groups here in the city that are work­ing with vul­ner­a­ble women and try­ing to em­power them. We’re very hope­ful and we’ll keep walk­ing.”

On Sun­day night en route to Galt Gar­dens from city hall vigil at­ten­dants held signs aloft pro­claim­ing “No more stolen sis­ters” and “Miss­ing, but not for­got­ten.”

More speak­ers fol­lowed at Galt Gar­dens com­plete with a can­dle­light vigil that lit up the stage area as night fell.

It was a par­tic­u­larly busy week­end for English’s fam­ily, who were also part of a walk from the Pi­ikani Na­tion to Cal­gary to raise fur­ther aware­ness.

The walk started on Oct. 1.

“My niece spear­headed it, it was her daugh­ter that was bru­tally killed in Cal­gary,” said English. “We walked from there to Nan­ton and they slept overnight and the next night they walked all the way to Cal­gary and to down­town Cal­gary.”

The Miss­ing and Mur­dered Indigenous Women and Girls in­quiry was a 1,200-page re­port and also 230 calls to ac­tion for the po­lice and in­sti­tu­tions to be ed­u­cated more on Indigenous peo­ple, their cul­tures, val­ues, spir­i­tu­al­ity and be­liefs, said English.

“Part of the Miss­ing and Mur­dered and the Truth in Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion is for us to start rec­on­cil­ing with each other and start work­ing to­gether, be ac­cept­ing of each other and live peace­fully and pros­per with each other and start lov­ing each other for who we are. We’re all hu­man be­ings and we can’t treat other na­tion­al­i­ties as an­i­mals. We’re hu­man and we all want to be treated hu­man and equally. Indigenous women have been treated bru­tally and abused. It’s been go­ing on and we want to make aware­ness to stop it. We want to be heard and we want peo­ple to know what’s hap­pen­ing and to work with us as a com­mu­nity.”

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