Just over a dozen people came out to the Agassiz United Church Friday (Oct. 4) to remember and honour Canada’s missing and murdered Indigenous women.
“Love restores the years that even the locusts have eaten. And for sure, the locusts have eaten lots of our young women and lots of our families, and destroyed them,” one of the organizers said during her speech at the Friday vigil.
“We can conquer all things with love … Let us leave here in love and peace, and give it to each other. That’s the only way our world will change.”
This year was the seventh time the Agassiz United Church had hosted a Sisters in Spirit vigil in the community. The vigil, organized by the Native Women’s Association of Canada, is meant to spread awareness about the thousands of Indigenous women, girls and two-spirited people who have been the victims of systemic violence.
“There are statutory regulations … that really need to be changed, fundamentally and systemically,” Leah Ballantyne , one of the women at the vigil, said. “Canada has agreed that they’ve had discrimination in their funding with First Nations children.
“And again I bring this up today because it ties into the overly systemic and racist issues that Indigenous women, girls and indeed families face.”
The vigil saw participants light candles in honour of those who have been killed or gone missing in Canada over the years. According to the Native Women’s Association of Canada, Indigenous women and girls are 12 times more likely to murdered or missing than other women in Canada, and 16 times more likely than Caucasian women.
Participants also wrote message inside paper hearts, that were posted on a bulletin board at the front of the church.
Many were messages of love and solidarity, with some reading “Love restores all things” or “There is great strength in unity.”
Others looked towards a future of change, where Indigenous women would have the same level of safety as other women in Canada.
“As sister, mother, daughter, grandmother, I pray for justice, peace and reconciliation.”