July 16th, 2024

Vigil honours missing and murdered Indigenous women

By Lethbridge Herald on October 4, 2023.

Members of the White Buffalo Singers perform an honour song during the Sisters in Spirit Vigil Wednesday evening at Galt Gardens remembering missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Herald photo by Theodora MacLeod

Theodora MacLeod – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Gathering in solemn solidarity, community members of all ages marched through the streets of downtown Lethbridge to the Galt Gardens on Wednesday night to honour the memory of the multitude of Indigenous women and girls who have been murdered or gone missing. Some carried signs with photos and the names of loved ones, others with posters demanding action. 

This year marked the 17th Sisters in Spirit vigil, and while the moniker of MMIW has reached public consciousness the issue remains, Indigenous women are at risk. According to Statistics Canada, across all provinces Indigenous women are facing violence at rates higher than non-Indigenous women, both by perpetrators known and unknown to the victims. 

The event is both a call to action and a place of community healing for the families left behind. “My grandmother, Gloria, was murdered in 1999 and she never got justice,” says Selena Medicine Shield, the emcee of the evening. “Not only does it affect the person who has gone missing or is murdered, it effects the families and the people in the community.” 

The glow of one hundred or more candles in red cups illuminated the crowd and symbolic red dresses hung from trees and brick structures as speakers took the podium to share their stories, their hopes, and their sorrow. Ramona Big Head, organizer Napi’s Run–a group who travelled on foot from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Alberta for “Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Men and Mother Earth,” told the crowd “My hope in this lifetime, when I’m done with this life, is that I don’t have to worry about my daughters, my granddaughters, and now as a great-grandmother I have great-granddaughters. I really hope those great-granddaughters, that we won’t have to worry about them.”

While there is hope that one day the calls to action will be met and Indigenous women, girl, two spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual plus people will live safely in society, for now the Canada wide vigils on October 4 honour those who have been lost and support the families left to grapple with the absence.

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