More than 50 people gathered Friday in front of Fredericton City Hall to raise awareness on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. (Angela Bosse/CBC) More than 50 people gathered today to "walk a mile in her moccasins" as part of the annual Red Shawl campaign to raise awareness on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
The Red Shawl Healing walk began this morning at Fredericton City Hall. It began with speeches and a prayer ceremony as the crowd looked on holding signs. Women were honoured with prayers and ceremonies to encourage action and healing.
Dymond Sabattis walked for her cousin Jade, who died last March.
"It’s a crisis in First Nations communities, that not enough justice is taken on all of these lives that are taken away from us, especially the ones that are taken so young," Sabattis said. Dymond Sabattis gives a speech with her relatives about her cousin Jade, who died last year. (Angela Bosse/CBC) According to the RCMP’s 2014 report Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women: A National Operational Overview, in the past 30 years there were 164 Indigenous women who were missing and 1,017 Indigenous women who had been murdered.
Sabattis said she attends the walk every year and feels encouraged when more and more people come.
"It makes it feel like we’re not alone. We’re all here to represent the same thing, we’re here to stand up for Indigenous women," she said. Participants in the walk stood outside city hall as they listened to speeches and a prayer ceremony to honour women whose lives were lost. (Angela Bosse/CBC) Also in the crowd of walkers was a group of students from Devon Middle School.
Angela Acquin, a First Nations support worker at the school, said she brought her students with her to help teach them about missing and murdered Indigenous women.
"I believe that it’s something that should be taught about in schools. So much of our history was forgotten, so much of our history was ignored and now we are taking the time to show our children the truth," Acquin said.
She said it’s important the younger generation is educated on this issue so they can continue to seek justice and change. People held signs seeking justice for loved ones who died. (Angela Bosse/CBC) "I think by bringing the children it makes sure that the word goes out, it makes sure that the justice is being kept and those kids are saying, ‘What, why is this happening?’ So we have them asking the questions and they’re going to ask all the right people," she said.
The walk was organized by the Mi’kmaq-Wolastoqey Centre at the University of New Brunswick as part of a whole week of activities for the Red Shawl campaign. The walk ended at the Delta Hotel with a closing prayer and ceremony. (Angela Bosse/CBC) "What we wanted to include this week was just to create the dialogue for the missing and murdered indigenous women and to create the network," said Chelsea Cullins, one of the co-ordinators.
In addition to starting a dialogue about violence against women, Cullins said it’s important for the families who have lost a loved one to have their memory honoured.
"We want to have that message spread for their families and for all of Canada so that we can heal as a nation."
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