(October 4, 2018) – “Today, we remember and honour the lives of the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and their families across Turtle Island,” stated AFN Alberta Regional Chief Marlene Poitras.
“We take this day to annually host vigils across this country to remind everyone that this is an ongoing tragedy for our First Nations communities, for our families, and for all of Canada.”
The October 4th Sisters In Spirit (SIS) Vigils are powerful movements of social change. The number of SIS Vigils has grown from 11 in 2006 to an impressive 212 vigils in 2017.
Family members, Indigenous community members, and concerned citizens gather for a vigil every October 4th to honour the memory of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Vigils take place in communities across Canada as well as internationally. These gatherings serve to raise awareness and to provide support to families who have lost a loved one.
In Edmonton, a Sisters in Spirit Vigil will be held tonight from 6 – 8 pm at Boyle Street Plaza located at 9538 103 A Avenue. In Calgary, it was held from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm at Olympic Plaza.
“We must redouble our efforts to not only find justice for the Indigenous women and girls who have been taken from us, but also to correct the systemic flaws within the foundations of our society,” added Regional Chief Poitras.
“Investments can be made now by all orders of governments in First Nations housing, water systems, and education. The safety of our First Nations women and girls remain paramount and we can improve that safety through establishing and supporting our own First Nations policing and justice systems. Building our Nations and addressing the social-economic gap, which feels more like a chasm, between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples are actions we can take now as the MMIWG Commission continues its important work.”
Each year, family members, Indigenous community members, and supports gather on October 4 at Parliament Hill in Ottawa and across the country.
“My heart is with these families as we honour them and their loved ones. Now let us truly honour them through our actions,” concluded Regional Chief Marlene Poitras.
“October 4th is a day where we honour the lives of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG),” stated Francyne Joe, president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada. “The violence experienced by Indigenous women and girls in Canada is a national tragedy. We must take the time to give thanks to the families who are our reason for demanding continued action.”
A vigil can take many forms, from a moment of silence, to a rally, to a community feast. All that is important is that you take some time on or around October 4th to mark the day.
“We gather to honour our sisters and their families who have been impacted by violence,” explained Joe. “We gather to show we are a united front. There is an epidemic of violence against Indigenous women, Two Spirit and gender diverse people that is unacceptable. There is an epidemic of violence that is taking our loved ones from us.
“Together, on October 4th we link arms across Canada and throughout the world to show our solidarity in the face of it, demand action and change, and to provide support to each other.
“It is important that we continue to support each other in a visible, accessible way. By hosting or attending a Sisters In Spirit Vigil, you are participating in the movement. Your participation and vocal support puts pressure on the government and on society to recognise that a crisis is occurring, and that change, acknowledgement, and justice are needed.”