Residents of Calgary gathered on Monday in the hopes of triggering some action on the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal woman as part of a larger national event taking place in many other communities across the country.
The Sisters In Spirit vigil began outside Calgary City Hall on Monday afternoon.
It has been ongoing every October for 11 years, but it’s more important this year because it is just two weeks away from Election Day and organizers say they have a chance to influence future policy makers as a result.
There have been other elections, but they also say that awareness of the number of murdered and missing Aboriginal women have gone up in recent days.
It’s partly because of more people speaking out, but also because of a large number of recent high profile cases.
Aboriginal women are just four percent of the Canadian population, but make up 16 percent of all homicides involving women. In the Prairies, that figure jumps to 28 percent.
Those behind the rally hope their efforts are enough to spark an inquiry and put an action plan in place.
“We know the federal government said it’s not high on his radar, so we’re asking him to reconsider his statement and understand that this is affecting so many,” said Josie Nepinak with the Sisters In Spirit.
On Sunday, a similar event was held in Edmonton, which began with a smudging, the burning of various medicinal plants to create a ritual cleansing smoke that is expected to lift negative energy, feelings, and emotions. It was followed by an open prayer and a rally walk.
Many people at the ceremony carried placards bearing photos and names of their loved ones.
Nearly 1,200 women are being honoured at these events across Canada.
The rally began at noon at City Hall plaza with remarks by Mayor Naheed Nenshi and then proceeded to Eau Claire Market, with a series of remarks from families of murdered and missing women, special guest speakers, and traditional Aboriginal drummers and singers.