Residents and others from around southern Alberta came together at Lethbridge City Hall on Sunday evening ahead of a Sisters in Spirit vigil.
October 4th is a day to honour the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two spirited individuals. Lethbridge City Council recently voted unanimously to proclaim October 4th as Sisters in Spirit Day in the city.
The event saw a large crowd gather to honour those lost and to offer support for the families who have dealt with the tragic loss of loved ones due to violence.
Statistics show that in Canada Indigenous women and girls are 12 times more likely to be murdered or go missing than other women in Canada.
For some who have been involved in organizing the event for many years, seeing the scale of the gatherings grow has been encouraging.
“For me it’s about awareness, and it’s about education, and it’s about sharing the stories of our lost ones,” Karen English from the Piikani Nation said. “Being Indigenous, I’ve had traumatic loss in my life and almost every Indigenous person I know has gone through lots of loss.”
English, who now lives in Fort Macleod, says this is a crisis in communities across Canada, it’s important to have so many people turn out to support the cause of educating people on the reality Indigenous people still face.
More than 100 vigils were held coast to coast, providing opportunities for healing for families and friends who have lost loved ones.
“We want everybody to be treated equally because we are all human beings. Through the truth and reconciliation our people are finally being heard,” said Wendy English, who lost family members to violence a few years ago. “One of the main factors in working together towards peaceful, positive, prosperous outcomes is working together in understanding that we are all in this together as a community, country, and world,”
The event started off at City Hall before an organized march through downtown to Galt Gardens where the vigil was held.
People from all backgrounds turned out to show unified support, something most believe is the key to making lasting progress.
“I think the only way we can ever move forward as a community is if we all unite, and we are aware together, and if we come up with the solutions together,” English said.