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A recent event for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Keremeos made the ongoing tragedy real for one local high school student.

Shianna Allison, who participates in Awaken the Spirit, a youth call to action through art, read a poem, participated in drumming and sang during the vigil held last Wednesday at Victory Hall.

“We are trying to recognize the hard truths about the devastating impacts of colonization, racism and sexism as aspects of Canada that many Canadians are not willing to accept,” Allison read out from the poem the group of youth wrote for the event.

She said prior to preparing for Wednesday’s event she often thought of the National tragedy as one that didn’t happen near her. About 100 people participated in a candle light vigil to honour Missing, Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Keremeos last week. Tara Bowie/Western News “It was very honouring (to be a part of it) because of all the stories that I heard, the heavy impact. I didn’t know it was so close to home. I thought it was probably more around the Vancouver-area… with it being so close to home it makes you feel that anyone could be going missing,” she said following the event.

About 100 people gathered in Victory Hall to share a meal, listen to speeches, drumming, singing and walk the main street of Keremeos as part of a candlelight vigil in honour of Missing and Murdered Indigenous women as part of National Aboriginal Addictions Awareness Week.

Lauren Terbasket, councillor for the Lower Similkameen Indian Band, said in her greeting remarks, she too, thought of missing and murdered Indigenous women as something that happens other places.

She noted upon reflection she realized how close it was after losing a young cousin to murder and a friend who she sang with went missing.

“l always thought it was someone else. We’ve all been in at risk situations where we come out of and get away from. And I know as Indigenous women we’ve all been in situations that were incredibly dangerous,” she said.

She recounted that a friend was last seen singing with her group one night. A delicious meal was served as part of an event honouring Missing, Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Keremeos last week. Tara Bowie/Western News “Last time we saw them she sang with us at the hall band and the next week she was gone. And they (the family) keep calling us and keep asking us and I always check on the Vancouver East Side every time I drive through,” she said.

“No one is willing to find out or help us with our closure.”

Related: Stories of loss, pain heard at missing and murdered Indigenous women inquiry

Leslie Fabriz one of the event organizers said she’d been involved in organizing events for missing and murdered Indigenous women for the past several years. Her auntie went missing in the mid-1980s.

(There were) nearly 1.200 murdered, missing Indigenous women and girls between 1980 and 2012,” she said. “Indigenous women groups, however, document the number of missing and murdered over 4,000. The confusion about the numbers has to do with the under reporting of violence against Indigenous women and girls and the lack of an ineffective data base and also the failure to identify such cases by ethnicity.” Tara Bowie More than 100 people attended an event honouring Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Keremeoes. Women groups state that more than 4,000 Indigenous women and girls have gone missing or have been murdered.

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