Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Sisters in Spirit vigil
A Sisters in Spirit vigil was held in Thunder Bay this Sunday at noon, in Paterson Park, downtown Fort William. Each year, cities and towns across Canada hold public vigils honouring missing and murdered Aboriginal women, whose disappearances and deaths are an ongoing problem in our country. “There is no such thing as an isolated act of violence against Aboriginal women,” says Ellen Gabriel, President of the Quebec Native Women’s Association. “Every attack takes place in a context of a long history of prejudice, discrimination and marginalization that has denied Aboriginal women full equality in Canadian society.”
Each person present at the vigil in our city was given 4 tokens to share with 4 friends to help bring attention to the hundreds of missing and murdered Aboriginal women, in order to help spread awareness and to work towards the human rights of Aboriginal women and stopping the violence that they suffer disproportinately. So, I am sending these cards out to you, my readers.
The vigil was put on by the local Ontario Native Women's Association. It was an overcast chilly day, but at the very end the sun peeked out for a bit. There was an opening prayer and a smudge, and some words by a female elder, who also closed the vigil.
The Women's Drum Group performed a number of songs and a number of speakers spoke about structural violence, racism, sexism, colonialism (too bad PM Harper failed to attend because he might have learned something), and personal stories of lost and murdered sisters, daughters, mothers, and other female family members. In the photo above, Tasha Shields, the health policy analyst for ONWA, is speaking about the violence that Aboriginal women suffer because they are Aboriginal and women. They suffer violence at a rate 5x higher than non-native women in Canada.
There was 2 minutes of silence and then balloons were released into the sky, with the names of missing and murdered women on them.
Each person present was given a bit of tobacco to place into a large bowl while the names of missing and murdered Aboriginal women from the region were read aloud. It was a long list of names, quite sobering. When I went up to the bowl and dropped in my tobacco, the name that was read was Deanna Daw from Fort Frances. The tobacco was later released into the Neebing River.