Sisters in Spirit Rally and Stolen Sisters and Brothers Awareness Walk raises awareness of and honours missing and murdered aboriginal women across Canada.
Jean L’hommecourt drove six hours to Edmonton from Fort Mackay First Nation Sunday to march in the Sisters in Spirit Rally and Stolen Sisters and Brothers Awareness Walk.
She said the Churchill Square event, which is raising awareness of and honouring missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls, makes her feel like she’s “not alone.”
L’hommecourt marched for her niece, Shelly Tannis Dene, who went missing from Edmonton in July 2013.
“I attend every walk, everything I can do to help find Shelly,” she said. “(The events) give you the feeling you have support out there and there are other people that are passionate about this travesty of justice.”
She explained Dene had moved to Edmonton to “re-establish a relationship” with her sister after their father passed away.
“Because she travels a lot nobody thought she was missing,” she said, adding that it was months before people knew.
She described the feeling of loss her family experienced as “a big void.”
Toni Latendre, organizer of the Edmonton event—which was held in solidarity with others across the country—said giving support to people like L’hommecourt is important “because so much is taken from them.”
“That’s my focus, supporting these families and insuring their voices are being heard, and they get to experience ceremony in terms of healing themselves as well,” she said.
L’hommecourt said there is still a void in her life and the lives of too many others.
“It is disheartening the Government of Canada is not recognizing our First Nations people… that we should be equally treated and protected,” she said. “For our sisters, mothers, granddaughters to go missing and there be no inquiry, to me it’s not right.”
RCMP statistics from 2014 show indigenous women are four times more likely to be murdered than non-indigenous women, and a report concluded “Aboriginal women are over-represented among Canada’s murdered and missing women.”
Speakers at Sunday’s event renewed a call that followed that 2014 report for a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.
“Something needs to be done,” Latendre said.