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

2020 Ponoka business awards
Ponoka chamber 2020 Business Award winners

The Ponoka and District Chamber of Commerce 2020 Business Awards were held… Continue reading

Ryen Williams, 11, with a lost miniature horse at JJ Collett Oct. 23. Photo by Don Williams
UPDATE: Owner found

Father and son found miniature horse while out for a walk at JJ Collett

Alberta has 3,651 active cases of COVID-19. (File photo)
432 new COVID cases sets another record Friday

Central zone holds steady at 126 active cases

(Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
Ponoka FCSS’ Empty Bowls sells out

For the first time ever, Ponoka Family and Community Support Services’ (FCSS’s)… Continue reading

"We are looking seriously at the spread and determining what our next steps should be," says Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, as the daily number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb.
427 new COVID cases is highest in Alberta ever

Central zone has 126 active cases of COVID-19

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau. (Black Press Media)
VIDEO: One day until B.C. voters go to the polls in snap election defined by pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan’s decision to call an election comes more than a year ahead of schedule and during a pandemic

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Leader of the Opposition Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons Thursday October 22, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
O’Toole tells Alberta UCP AGM Liberals were ‘late and confused’ on COVID response

He says Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has taken charge and not waited to make things happen

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives for an announcement at a news conference in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Inquiry into oil and gas foes to deliver report next year: Kenney

A lawsuit filed by environmental law firm Ecojustice argues the inquiry is politically motivated

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

This photo provided by Air Force Reserve shows a sky view of Hurricane Epsilon taken by Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter team over the Atlantic Ocean taken Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020.   Epsilon’s maximum sustained winds have dropped slightly as it prepares to sideswipe Bermuda on a path over the Atlantic Ocean.  The National Hurricane Center says it should come close enough Thursday, Oct. 22, evening to merit a tropical storm warning for the island.  (Air Force Reserve via AP)
Hurricane Epsilon expected to remain offshore but will push waves at Atlantic Canada

Epsilon is not expected to have any real impact on land

A voter places her absentee ballot in the ballot box, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, at Merrill Auditorium in Portland, Maine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Robert F. Bukaty
American voters living in Canada increasingly being counted in presidential race

The largest number of Canadian-based American voters cast their ballots in New York and California

A composite image of three photographs shows BC NDP Leader John Horgan, left, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Sept. 25, 2020; BC Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau, centre, in Victoria on Sept. 24, 2020; and BC Liberal Party Leader Andrew Wilkinson Pitt Meadows, B.C., on Sept. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck, Chad Hipolito
British Columbia votes in snap election called during COVID-19 pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan called the snap election one year before the fixed voting date

Nunavut's provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, on Tuesday June 30, 2020. The annual report from Nunavut's representative for children and youth says "complacency and a lack of accountability" in the territory's public service means basic information about young people needing services isn’t tracked. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Nunavut’s young people ‘should be expecting more’ from government services: advocate

‘The majority of information we requested is not tracked or was not provided by departments’

Most Read