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Grande Prairie vigil honours Sisters in Spirit

The lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and 2-spirit people have been honoured in Grande Prairie. The annual Sisters in Spirit vigil was held Sunday afternoon at the Spirit Sisters Rock behind Grande Prairie Regional College and included drumming, a walk around the trails, and the inclusion of a new eagle staff.

Every October 4th, events are held across Canada to honour the memories of the more than 1,200 missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and 2-spirit people in Canada. Grande Prairie Friendship Centre Executive Director Miranda Laroche says she hopes people will take away from it the magnitude of the national tragedy and create change to prevent future loss.

Photographs of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls lined the Spirit Sister Rock and Muskoseepi Park trails (Erica Fisher, staff)

“As parents, we need to teach our children to be kind and gentle to one another and to stand up for each other. As a mother with daughters and sons, I strive to always ensure that my daughters know to be safe and to know their surroundings, and that my sons are respectful to women at all times”

2020 marks the 11th year a Sisters in Spirit event has been held in the Swan City. This one was particularly emotional, following the loss of organizer Delaine Lambert-English earlier this year.

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However, her presence was felt with the introduction of the friendship centre’s first ever eagle staff, which was an initiative spearheaded by Lambert-English. It includes purple fabric, which Laroche explains represents grandmothers, as well as 10 eagle feathers. Laroche adds it is also different from traditional eagle staffs, in that women can carry it.

“Predominantly in the friendship centre movement we are women… it’s all people’s eagle staff so that all women can hold it in honour. It represents leading us and guiding us in a good way.”

Red dresses are left along the Muskoseepi Park trails (Erica Fisher, staff)

According to the 2016 background to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, between the 1980 and 2012, Indigenous women and girls represented 16 per of all female homicide victims in Canada, while making up just four per cent of the female population in Canada. Laroche notes meetings on MMIWG2S have started up again with women in the community to continue work locally.

“It’s just our hope that if you keep talking and you keep raising the awareness, that people will actually listen and hopefully we don’t have tragedies like we are having right now.”

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