A monument honouring Manitoba's missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls was unveiled at The Forks on Tuesday.
The granite monument is located near the historic rail bridge and the Oodena Celebration Circle.
"This is a very important day for families of Manitoba's missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls as we unveil a monument in their honour and recognition," Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Minister Eric Robinson said at the unveiling.
"Manitoba continues to support families who have tragically and violently lost a loved one in a very tangible and symbolic way with the installation of this monument and we continue our community partnerships on this most critical issue.
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"Many families have no place to honour, grieve or celebrate their loved one. This monument offers such a space to families and community seeking to honour aboriginal women and girls who were sadly taken from their families."
Families of Manitoba's missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls identified the establishment of a monument as a priority at the annual Wiping Away the Tears gathering.
The three-day gathering, held in June 2010 and hosted by the province, was aimed at developing new policies and improving resources for victims and their families.
About 150 people gathered for Tuesday's unveiling.
The monument, created in the female form, is polished on one side with a rougher surface on the other to represent the roughness in life, explained Nahanni Fontaine, special adviser to the province.
“She is the whitest granite that you can get,” said Fontaine.
The circle represents the connection between two worlds and allows light to pass through.
For many families of missing, murdered women there is no grave or place to remember, so this can be that place, Fontaine said.
'This is very special'
“One of the things that happens for families is that they feel nobody cares or nobody listens or nobody understands,” said Fontaine. “This monument is that symbolic representation that this is a critical issue.”
“No matter how many years have gone by, it’s like yesterday,” said her mom, Bernice Catcheway. “We just need to bring her home now.”
During Tuesday’s unveiling, Catcheway sat next to families whose loved ones who had also gone missing – or had been murdered.
“This is very special,” said Sue Caribou, Tanya Nepinak’s cousin.
Nepinak went missing at age 31. A second-degree murder charge was laid in Nepinak's death but that charge was eventually stayed.
“You can come and remember your loved one. I’m very happy. I’m so happy,” said Caribou.