Photo/ Darlene Hildebrandt

MMIWG2S Sisters in Spirit Vigil and Walk held in Wetaskiwin

Oct. 4, 2020 guest speakers and supporters gathered in Wetaskiwin for MMIWG2S vigil and walk.

Sunday Oct. 4, 2020 a vigil and walk in honour of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two Spirit (MMIWG2S) was held in Wetaskiwin, Alta. When planning the event, organizer Chevy Rabbit says she had to really think, “what can I do to be really impactful?”

The Wetaskiwin Sisters in Spirit Vigil is one of the many that was held nationwide on Oct. 4 to honour the lives of more that 1,200 missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and gender diverse people across Canada.

Having the vigil and walk in Wetaskiwin wasn’t enough for Rabbit however, “I just really want to honour the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women,” she said.

“Hate to Hope” led a three and a half hour long walk from Maskwacis to Wetaskiwin with Rabbit and her friend Marilyn Tobaccojuice to attend the vigil and honour the MMIWG2S. This walk was to raise awareness for the families of MMIW and highlight the need for the Government of Alberta to implement recommendations from the MMIW report.

“It felt really good to do something like that,” says Rabbit. “It’s important that we recognize that we live in a system that continues to oppress Indigenous communities and create environments unsafe for Indigenous women, girls and two spirit women. That Indigenous women continue to face discrimination, hate, violence and racism at higher rates that non-Indigenous women.”

Rabbit challenges Albertans to not just pass by those walking on the side of busy highways, but question it.

“Why are people walking on the side of the road? What is happening in Canada? Are you part of the problem? Have you asked yourself do I work for a system, organization or business that is racist, discriminatory and hateful? Ask yourself how can I be the change?”

Rabbit and “Hate to Hope” partnered with the Wetaskiwin District Museum to host “Sisters in Spirit” Day in Wetaskiwin.

Guest speakers at the vigil in Wetaskiwin included MLA Rick Wilson; Samson Cree Nation Councillor Katherine Swampy; Alberta musician, MMIWG2S speaker and activist Stephanie Harpe; Maskwacis Elder Shirly Rabbit; and Wetaskiwin City Councillor Gabrielle Blatz-Morgan.

Other guest speakers included community members who spoke on their experiences and those they’ve lost who are part of MMIWG2S. Marilyn Tobaccojuice also performed a healing jingle dress dance accompanied by Drum Group and Singers Mountain Cree at the event.

“Clearly there are issues within Alberta and Canada with violence against Indigenous women and girls and murders against women and children,” says Rabbit. “How many dead bodies do you need to start taking action?”

Rabbit says that it still amazes her how many Indigenous families have been directly impacted by violence and murder. She says the vast majority either know directly, or have someone in their family, who is a stolen sister.

One of the ways Rabbit feels that the community and City of Wetaskiwin in its entirety can help in the fight to protect and prevent MMIWG2S is by developing an RCMP hate crime unit in the area. She believes that having a targeted unit that acts on reducing hate crimes in the community would be greatly beneficial to Wetaskiwin and would truly reduce the rate of hate crimes within and around the City.

The Sisters in Spirit Vigil took place from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. and was followed by the attendees walking down the auto-mile to bring awareness for MMIWG2S. Rabbit says that everyone can help, no matter how small, it is just a matter of taking a moment to self reflect and think of the follow through of their actions.

“I think we have to start asking ourselves as Albertans, are we part of the problem?” Rabbit says it is important to ask yourself, “how can we be the change in the organizations we work for.”

Rabbit says it showing your support can be as simple as shopping or giving your business to inclusive organizations or stores.

The vigil was not only held to honour stolen Sisters in Spirit, but to bring further awareness of how big of an issue MMIWG2S is—an issue that is only growing across the country.

“It’s the big elephant in the room in Canada,” says Rabbit. “So many Indigenous women and families are suffering.”



shaela.dansereau@pipestoneflyer.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Katherine Swampy speaking at the event. Photo/ Darlene Hildebrandt

Cree Jingle Dress dancer Marilyn Tobaccojuice and Katherine Swampy. Photo/ Darlene Hildebrandt

Photo/ Darlene Hildebrandt

Wetaskiwin City Councillor Gabrielle Blatz-Morgan at the event. Photo/ Darlene Hildebrandt

MLA Rick Wilson at the event. Photo/ Darlene Hildebrandt

Photo/ Darlene Hildebrandt

Just Posted

(Photo Submitted by the Gord Bamford Foundation)
Lacombe’s Gord Bamford to perform a virtual concert for a good cause

The concert aims to raise awareness for Operation Santa Clause

Alberta Health Services' central zone jumped from 162 active COVID-19 cases to 178 on Friday. Five additional deaths were reported provincewide, bringing the toll to 323. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
622 new COVID-19 cases set another daily high Friday

Province confirmed 622 additional cases Friday

“Pumpkin” is available for adoption at Old MacDonalds Kennels. (Facebook photo)
Old MacDonald Kennels sounding the alarm over number of cats in care

An expansion is underway at Old MacDonald Kennels

Alberta children whose only symptom of COVID-19 is a runny nose or a sore throat will no longer require mandatory isolation, starting Monday.
477 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Alberta on Thursday

Changes being made to the COVID-19 symptom list for school-age children

Bashaw town council
Funding almost in place for Bashaw Lagoon Project

Town still needing funds for its portion

Over the years, Janice Blackie-Goodine’s home in Summerland has featured elaborate Halloween displays and decorations each October. (File photo)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about Halloween?

Oct. 31 is a night of frights. How much do you know about Halloween customs and traditions?

(Photo submitted)
Rimbey resident avid author despite Parkinson’s

Wins more accolades for her writing

(Photo Submitted by the Gord Bamford Foundation)
Lacombe’s Gord Bamford to perform a virtual concert for a good cause

The concert aims to raise awareness for Operation Santa Clause

City of Wetaskiwin Mayor presenting the AUMA Above & Beyond Award to John Maude and Susan Quinn. Ren Goode/ City of Wetaskiwin.
Wetaskiwin County residents win the AUMA Above & Beyond Award

John Maude and Susan Quinn are being recognized for their role in Wetaskiwin’s sustainability.

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Erin O’Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs

Pilots Ilona Carter and Jim Gray of iRecover Treatment Centres, in front of his company’s aircraft, based at Ponoka’s airport. (Perry Wilson/Submitted)
95-year-old Ilona Carter flies again

Takes to the skies over Ponoka

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a daycare in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. Alberta Children’s Services Minister Rebecca Schulz says the province plans to bring in a new way of licensing and monitoring child-care facilities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Alberta proposes legislation to change rules on child-care spaces

Record-keeping, traditionally done on paper, would be allowed digitally

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with US Vice-President Joe Biden on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, December 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
A Biden presidency could mean good news for Canadian environment policy: observers

Experts and observers say even a U.S. outside the Paris agreement may ultimately end up in the same place

People take a photo together during the opening night of Christmas Lights Across Canada, in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. The likelihood that most Canadians will enjoy a holly jolly Christmas season of gatherings, caroling and travel is unlikely, say public health experts who encourage those who revel in holiday traditions to accept more sacrifices ahead. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Ho, ho, no: Experts advise preparing for a scaled-back COVID holiday season

Many of the holiday season’s highlights have already been scrapped or are unlikely to take place

Most Read