By Lloyd Dolha
The annual vigil for missing Aboriginal women was held in 70 communities right across Canada to help raise awareness of the sad fact that 582 Aboriginal women have been missing for enough years to presume they are dead. Sisters In Spirit is an organization with a mission to expose violence against Aboriginal women and find a way to stop it from happening.
Lori Whiteman represents the Saskatchewan branch, and she was in Regina their 5th annual vigil. “If left unchecked, not only will this remain a human rights violation, but it will heavily impact future generations of Canadians,” Whiteman told the women who attended the vigil. “We are looking for a commitment from all Canadians, that systemic forms of violence and indifference to the lives of all Canadian Aboriginal women and girls must end.”
The federal government has promised $10 million in assistance over two years. Unfortunately, they have yet to make police forces accountable for their collective negligence. Recently, the Vancouver police have admitted that Willie Pickton could have been brought to justice years before his actual arrest if they had worked more closely with other police forces.
In Regina, women marched with lit candles while the Rainwater Singers played songs of prayer as the procession moved through the streets. Lori Campbell, drum carrier for the Rainwater Singers, said, “I see the awareness there, and I think for so many people it’s ‘not in my backyard’ so they don’t think about it until it affects them. What I hope to see happen is an understanding that we aren’t going to accept it anymore and that we are all responsible and accountable. It’s not just the Aboriginal community that needs to say ‘stop hurting our women.’ It’s everybody.”