A windy, cloudy sky dumped rain and snow on us.
We were told, “The sky is weeping.”
But it wasn’t only the sky. It was also the hearts and souls of thousands of Canadians across the country who had gathered at over 130 vigils across Canada for the annual Sisters in Spirit Vigil for murdered and missing indigenous women.
The numbers are bleak. There have been close to 1200 murdered and missing indigenous women since 1980. Indigenous women make up 4% of the female population in Canada, but make up 16% of female homicides and 11% of women who are missing.
And so every October 4th, people gather to remember the ones whose lives ended too early and often violently.
This year, nine of us from Grace Mennonite in Steinbach attended the vigil at the Legislative Buildings in Winnipeg. We heard an elder give her blessing. We heard traditional drumming. We heard from politicians who want to work at the root causes of the problem. We heard Inuit throat singing. We heard from young men and older men, encouraging other men to be part of the solution. We heard contemporary musicians. We heard from mothers. We heard from families who had lost loved ones.
We stood with our indigenous brother and sisters as an act of solidarity. We stood as a support for the good work indigenous groups are doing across Canada as they work to end the violence. We stood for the indigenous women that we know who have been either victims of violence, or are at a higher risk of being a victim of violence. We stood because we believe that something in this relationship between settler and indigenous peoples is broken. We stood because in our own little corner of this country, we care.
One of the organizers shared with us, “I am looking forward to the day that we can gather for different occasions, a day when our women are safe and no longer missing or murdered.” We are looking forward to that day as well.
Lord have mercy.
For stats, stories, and how to help, please visit the Native Women’s Association of Canada website.
Photo by Hilda Anderson-Pyrz
Photo by Kira Burkett