Many turned out to pay respect with the Aboriginal community holding a Sisters in Spirit Vigil to honour the lives of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls outside of City Hall in Vancouver on October 4, 2015 . Andrea Reimer, Deputy Mayor of Vancouver breaks down in tears during her speech. Photograph by: Mark van Manen , PNG
By Staff Reporter, The Province,October 4, 2015
Several hundred people were reported to have gathered outside of Vancouver City Hall Sunday evening in a sombre vigil held as part of a national event in honour of Canada’s missing and murdered Aboriginal women.
First Nations leadership, local politicians and the families of missing and murdered women were among the speakers of the Sisters in Spirit Vigils event, which has been held annually for about 10 years.
Joyce Galuska, the BC Federation of Labour aboriginal worker’s representative, said the event was well attended and featured poignant stories told by the family members of the murdered and missing.
“These are the murdered and missing aboriginal women and girls from across Canada that need to be remembered and honoured,” she said. “And I think far too often, we don’t do that. So I think we have to make sure that we highlight them and make sure they are remembered in a positive and respectful way.”
This year’s event has been put into sharper focus as a result of the election campaign. Galuska said Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s reluctance to hold an inquiry into the missing and murdered women is “absolutely shameful.” By contrast, she said NDP leader Thomas Mulcair’s pledge to hold an inquiry into the missing and murdered woman is “very important.”
“There is just no way that this issue should continue to go unrecognized,” she said.
Other speakers included Vancouver city councillor and deputy mayor Andrea Reimer, National Chief Perry Bellegrade of the Assembly of First Nations and Bob Chamberlin, vice president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.
Within the past 30 years, it is estimated that 1,180 First Nations women in Canada fell into the missing and/or murdered category.