Fallen sisters remembered

Above is part of the crowd that attended the Sisters in Spirit Walk Oct. 4. On the left is Town of High Prairie Councillor Sacha Martens.

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

Each year, many gather around the country to remember lost loved ones and share the pain.
And, perhaps even more importantly, to bring awareness to an issue for many years overlooked by authorities.
High Prairie held its Sisters in Spirit Walk Oct. 4, co-hosted by the High Prairie Native Friendship Centre and the High Prairie and District Children’s Resource Council. Held in High Prairie for the 14th year, the walk was held by the Friendship Centre in past years, but welcomed the HP CRC on board. Due to its soft opening currently underway, the crowd of 114 taking part gathered at the HP CRC afterwards for snacks and testimonials.
After the welcome which involved thanking for sponsors and those attending, Friendship Centre executive director Carol Hanlon read a statement from Belinda Willier which summed up everyone’s thoughts on the cause. The walk is passion of hers and one she rarely misses.
“Unfortunately, I am not able to be here today, but I commend all of you for helping shed some light by bringing awareness to this heart-wrenching matter.
“Sisters in Spirit has opened the doors and eyes of people around world,” Willier added. “This is the walk that brings awareness to missing and murdered women, girls, and even to the men and boys.”
In its early years, the walk in High Prairie drew a scant dozen people. Over the years, the popularity of the walk has grown with the past few walks attracting over 100 people. Willier has missed only two of the previous 14 walks.
“This is a passion of mine and hits close to home for me that I can’t be here to walk for my sisters and brothers,” wrote Willier.
“But all of you being here today, brings a message of hope and in some cases, many be even answers. Your prayers and the time you have taken to help us get this message out is deeply appreciated.”
The stats from 2015 do not lie and tell a solemn tale. Indigenous women account for four per cent of the female population but 24 per cent of female homicides in Canada. Indigenous women report rates of violence 3.5 times per cent times higher than non-Indigenous women and girls, and incidents of violence and death from violence occurs at rates five times higher.

“Your presence and prayers may help people understand that families and friends of the missing and murdered might have or get some type of closure,” wrote Willier.

The Sisters in Spirit Walk has grown over the years to remember missing and/or murdered Indigenous men and boys. Above, Titen Badger was remembered by friends and family.
“Cookie Gardiner” carried a photo of her sister, Evelyn Roberts, who passed away in 1978. She has attended the walk many times.
The High Prairie Red Wings attended the walk to show support. Fitting their sweaters are red, the chosen colour of the walk.
Police attended the walk to lead them in safety. Left-right are Lakeshore Regional Police Service Const. Allison Meltingtallow, wearing the traditional ribbon skirt, High Prairie RCMP Const. Amira Ferguson, and High Prairie RCMP Const. Darren Martens. In back are Barry Sharkawi, vice-chair of the High Prairie Children’s Resource Council, and Debbie Cook, family support worker of WJS Canada.

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