Sisters in Spirit
“My sister dance in the wind, sing your songs through the trees, shine through the stars.”
This refrain echoed through the over-full hall at Boyle Street Plaza on October 4th. Jamie Medicine Crane and Shaunteya Eaglechild were at the Sisters in Spirit vigil held at Boyle Street Plaza. The two women are members of the Kainai and Piikani Nations of the Blackfoot Confederacy. Proclaiming “dancing is for healing,” they performed a dance tribute in memory of all those, inclusive of all genders, who are among the missing and murdered Indigenous people across Canada.
Eleven cities and towns throughout Alberta held vigils. In 2003 NWAC, Native Women’s Association of Canada, walked to Parliament Hill beginning the annual Sisters in Spirit awareness and advocacy vigils. Grieving and angry mothers, grandmothers, and sisters have cried out, walked, drummed, and sung throughout the years. Kathy King’s daughter was murdered in 1997 and her killer has not yet been found. She felt affirmed by the whole evening, knowing her personal advocacy since her daughter’s death is part of a great stream of awareness building towards change.
Karen, the sister of Dolores Brouwer, spoke of her family’s journey of grief and how families must find the courage in their grief to be the voices of their loved ones. They must speak out to all orders of government and continue to go to the vigils and walks. Dolores was reported missing in 2004 and her remains were finally found April 19, 2015. Her killer has not yet been found.
Councillor Aaron Paquette spoke passionately: “This is a result of historic injustices visited upon Indigenous people. Blame those who broke the relationship, not those who are broken. The government (of the past) did this by breaking our communities, and governments (in the present) have to do even more to heal. Hold every elected official accountable because our women deserve every night to come home.”
Kate is the Executive Director of the Centre to End All Sexual Exploitation (CEASE).