Ottawa, ON, Oct. 02, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The annual Sisters In Spirit vigil commemorating thousands of First Nations, Métis and Inuit women who have been murdered or gone missing in Canada in recent decades will take place online on Sunday afternoon via livestreaming webcast.

The vigil, which has been held every Oct. 4 for the past 15 years, will provide an opportunity for family members who have lost loved ones to share their grief and, hopefully, to find comfort in the collective embrace of those who mourn with them.

This year’s speakers will include Martha Martin, the mother of Chantel Moore who was killed by police in Edmunston, N.B. in June; Meggie Cywink, whose older sister Sonya was murdered in Ontario in 1994; Marcia and Alisha, the daughters of Happy Charles who disappeared in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, in 2017; and Candace Meyer, whose sister Angela Meyer went missing in Yellowknife in 2010.

In recent years, Sisters and Spirit vigils have been held in more than 100 communities across Canada. But the event has been moved online because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The webcast will stream at:

“We have to recognize the knowledge of our sisters, our mothers, our grandmothers who have told us that those we have lost cannot be forgotten,” said Lorraine Whitman, President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) who will emcee the vigil.  “We need to be able to support the families of those who have been taken from us and to let them know that that we will continue to do that even though we are in a pandemic. We are not going to forget them.”

The Sisters In Spirit Vigil, which was first held 2005, began as way to draw attention to the disproportionately high number of Indigenous women and girls who are murdered or go missing in Canada. NWAC raised concerns when the federal government failed in June to keep a commitment to release a National Action Plan for meeting the Calls for Justice of the National Inquiry that would have mapped a strategy for ending the violence.

NWAC and other Indigenous organizations are now working with the government to determine what measures should go into such a plan and are optimistic that progress is being made. 

“Until governments take strong and decisive action, the killing will continue,” said Ms. Whitman. “It truly saddens me that we are still having these vigils because our women and girls are still being murdered and disappearing. It breaks my heart to know this is continuing.”

Gloria Galloway
Native Women's Association of Canada