Gone, not forgotten
Walk at Saugeen First Nation remembers missing Indigenous women and men
A decade after her granddaughter and a friend went missing after moving from Saugeen First Nation #29 to Quebec, Beulah Johnson took solace from a “celebration” at the annual Take Back the Night Missing and Murdered Indigenous Walk Tuesday at Saugeen First Nation.
Approximately 75 people - half the crowd from past years - accompanied by singers and drummers, carried remembrance signs as they walked from the Women’s Shelter to the amphitheatre on Highway 21 for a ceremony to remember the 1,200 missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada.
Johnson said her daughter, Maisy’s mother, has not given up hope.
“I think I have. I - I have to move on,” Johnson said, but still wished “something would come out of the blue” to explain Maisy’s disappearance Sept. 5, 2008.
“Everyone is here as a celebration and that helps,” Johnson said as she carried a symbolic red dress on a decorated staff during the walk. She placed the dress at the monument at the amphitheatre site.
Twelve women and one man placed 13 roses - red ones representing 100 missing and murdered women, yellow for unreported missing, and one white one for missing and murdered men around the stone monument where candles burned in their honour.
OPP Const. Adam Belanger offered condolences to families and friends who have suffered loss.
He said a 2015 Missing and Unsolved Indigenous People in OPP Jurisdiction Report offered clarity.
“The OPP hopes the report generates discussion and potential leads, and or resolution for the families that have suffered loss.”
Lori Kewaquom, SFN culture and wellness coordinator, thanked the crowd because their attendance underscores the basis of their culture and traditions.
“We are all Spirit - sometimes we don’t have anything else to hold on to and we can hold on to the Spirit as the very basis of who we are as a people.”
She made special mention of the men in the crowd and the men drummers, calling them protectors with a special role, and to women - the carriers of life - who she called the portal between the spiritual realm and here.
Kewaquom said the “unresolved grief” in the community and questions about loved one’s fates would hopefully be helped by the joint grieving and ceremony to help the Spirit’s journey to the Spirit World.
The ceremony ended with the crowd offering tobacco ties to the Sacred Fire in group prayer, and then going to the Youth Centre for refreshments.
Approximately 75 men, women and children marched from the Saugeen First Nation Women's Shelter to the amphitheatre on Highway 21 in support of the annual Take Back the Night Missing and Murdered Indigenous Walk in Saugeen First Nation on Tuesday.