Sisters in Spirit vigil in Agassiz

Vigil will focus on awareness around missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls

This Saturday, Oct. 4, a community candlelight vigil will be held at Agassiz United Church.

“This is a day where we honor the lives of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls,” said organizer Debbie Hansen. “The violence experienced by Aboriginal women and girls in Canada is a national tragedy. We must take the time to give thanks to the families who have inspired the Sisters in Spirit movement and who are the reason we all continue to demand action.”

The Native Women’s Association of Canada has created a database of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls, gathering 582 cases as of Mar. 31, 2010.

They found that 67% are murder cases, 20% are missing cases, 4% are cases of suspicious death and 9% are cases where the nature of the case is unknown. They also found that the numbers were disproportionately high; while the cases make up 10% of all female homicides in Canada, only 3% of the female population in Canada is Aboriginal.

Oftentimes, the women are young and also mothers (88%). NWAC estimates that more than 440 children have been impacted by the disappearance or death of their mother.

Nearly half of the murder cases in the NWAC database remain unsolved, and Aboriginal women are at a higher risk of violence than non-Aboriginal women.

Hansen is hoping that the whole community will feel welcome in joining the  candlelight vigil at Agassiz United Church from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Oct. 4.

Similar vigils are being held in more than 200 communities across Canada.