EDMONTON -- A special vigil was held in Edmonton Friday evening to remember Canada’s missing and murdered Indigenous women.
Nearly 200 people showed up to the ceremony at Boyle Street Community Centre.
An RCMP report found 1,200 Aboriginal women were killed or went missing in Canada between 1980 and 2012.
Friday’s vigil was a way to pay respect to the affected families and raise awareness.
“We see the effects in the children, we see the effects in the systems that are supposed to be set up to support them and they aren’t working, so that’s one of the reasons why we want everyone to hear us and try to do what they can to make changes,” said Rachelle Venne with the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women.
“There has been a lot of injustice done to those women, and there’s still families that grieve for them in many, many ways,” said Francis Whiskeyjack.
Whiskeyjack works as a counsellor and mentor to youth, and says that these vigils are a chance for the community to get together and support the families of the murdered and missing women.
“A lot of the abuse whether it was sexual, physical, mental, emotional, have been left unanswered. So the memory itself—that is very sacred and this is why you’ll see so many people to honour them and support the families that are still grieving.”
Whiskeyjack says that a lot of people take the attitude of “the past is the past,” but he says in order to reach reconciliation people need to talk about their experiences.
“When we speak the truth, it’s very meaningful because I’ve experienced it, other people have experienced it. We can forgive but we can’t forget,” said Whiskeyjack. “It’s a serious issue, and it needs to be addressed in a kind way, and also to maintain the dignity of First Nations.”
“Every missing or murdered Indigenous woman and girl is a person to be honoured and mourned, and belongs to a family that needs answers, and a community that needs resolution,” said Minister of Culture Leela Sharon Aheer in a statement.
“We commit to building an Alberta where Indigenous women and girls are valued, respected and safe to live lives filled with hope and promise.”
The ceremony was one of many across the country on Sisters in Spirit Day.