Dozens of people participated in the Sisters in Spirit march hosted by the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society on Monday (Oct. 4) to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
“We’re here to support our sisters who were murdered and missing. For some of them, they have been missing for many many years. Decades, even,” said society executive director Edna Terbasket.
Sisters in Spirit is a campaign to honour the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse people. Held on Oct.4 every year, it is also a campaign to support grieving families and create opportunities for healing. The event acknowledges the violence experienced by Indigenous women, girls and gender-diverse people.
“We think about how they have died violently and horrifically, and some of them have never been found. There is no closure for their families. No farewell,” said Terbasket.
Kelowna city councillors Mohini Singh and Loyal Wooldridge were in attendance. Mayor Colin Basran was also in attendance but had to leave early for family obligations. Representatives from the Vancouver Major Crime Unit and the provincial Family Liaison Information Unit were also in attendance. The unit helps family members of missing Indigenous women and girls gather information about their loved one’s cases and provide information in a trauma-informed, culturally sensitive manner.
Many wore blue shirts with a red handprint to honour the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
Smudging was offered before the march. Red dresses in honour of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls lined the building’s exteriors. Portraits of the missing Indigenous women and girls were also hung outside the building.
The vigil ended with an open-mic session where participants could share their stories. Many talked about their missing and murdered loved ones. Some talked about their children and how they are hopeful for their future.
Singh and Wooldridge also spoke at the vigil. “Something I’ve learned is to listen and understand truth, and as non-Indigenous people, that’s our first lesson. Part of this healing and this path that we walk together is understanding that we can’t fully feel it but we can begin to understand it,” said Wooldridge.