OTTAWA, Oct. 4, 2016 /CNW/ – Representatives from the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) will take part in the 10th annual Sisters in Spirit vigils being held in various locations across the country today to honour the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and their families.
“All governments and police forces can take action now to improve the wellbeing and safety of women and girls while the national inquiry is underway,” said AFN National Chief, Perry Bellegarde. “We can ensure our people living on and off-reserve have access to housing and emergency shelters, childcare services, transportation and health and wellness services. Building healthier, safer communities free of violence against women means ensuring these resources are readily available. I stand with the families of our stolen sisters today, and every day.”
“As the newly-elected Chair of the AFN Women’s Council, I am honoured to stand with the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls today,” said Denise Stonefish, who will be marking the day from Ontario. “Racial and sexual discrimination have no place in First Nations communities – whether we choose to live in rural or urban centers. We all must play a part in ending violence against Indigenous women and girls and bringing about justice for our stolen sisters.”
The AFN’s executive portfolio holder for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, Regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson, will be attending a vigil in Vancouver, BC today. “It is a unique privilege for me to be able to work with our women – the sacred water carriers and life givers. Women are the heartbeat of our communities,” he said. “Working towards the safety and security of our women and girls is of paramount importance, and enough is enough as now is the time to end violence against our women and girls. Today, I am honoured to stand with my sisters here in British Columbia, and across Turtle Island, as we condemn violence against women in all its forms.”
Sisters in Spirit vigils, hosted for the first time in 2006 by the Native Women’s Association of Canada, take place across the country and internationally every October 4 to honour the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and to facilitate healing for families. In 2006 there were 11 vigils; in 2014 there were 216.