The Aboriginal Students Association at York (ASAY) organized a “Sisters in Spirit” march and vigil last week to honour missing and murdered indigenous women.
It was scheduled to coincide with similar events that occurred nationwide on and before Oct. 4. Since 2006, this day has been set aside by indigenous people and their allies to mark this national tragedy.
Student Karissa John spoke at the Sisters in Spirit rally at York University
The event at York was attended by about 35 women and men – students, staff and faculty alike. Participants carried balloons bearing the names of missing or murdered women; some also carried placards.
Participants met in Vari Hall, marched to and through Osgoode Hall Law School to the York Tipi, chanting “No more stolen sisters. Stop violence against indigenous women.”
A ceremony was held in the tipi and it included a smudging ceremony, opening prayer by Cree elder Jimmy Dick and a sharing circle with speeches by various student representatives.
“Individuals shared memories of loved ones who had died a violent death and called on the government to do more to help indigenous women,” said Maggie Quirt of York’s Department of Equity Studies in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies.
York University students at a march and vigil last week in Vari Hall to honour missing and murdered indigenous women
Attendees also signed a petition started by the Native Women’s Association of Canada, calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to implement a national inquiry into “missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls in Canada”. The circle ended with a healing song led by elder Laureen Waters. As participants left the tipi, they released their balloons into the sky.
This event, says Quirt, built on previous events and work by York students to commemorate missing and murdered indigenous women, including participation in the Walking with Our Sisters beadworking project designed to help bring awareness to the issue (see June 2 issue of YFile).
Balloons bearing the names of missing or murdered women are released into the atmosphere
For more information, visit the Native Women’s Association of Canada website.
Interested persons can sign the Native Women’s Association of Canada petition calling for a national inquiry of the some 600 missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls.