By Lethbridge Herald on October 6, 2020.
Indigenous women and girls who have gone missing and murdered were remembered in a vigil Sunday night.
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 Thursday.
“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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