Loretta Saunders remembered during vigils in 5 provinces

People remembered Loretta Saunders, the Labrador woman who was slain in Nova Scotia last month, at several vigils on Thursday.
Vigils for slain Loretta Saunders were held in a number of locations, including Happy Valley-Goose Bay 1:33

People remembered Loretta Saunders, the Labrador woman who was slain in Nova Scotia last month, at several vigils on Thursday. 

Friends and relatives of Saunders, 26, gathered in her hometown of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, as well as in Halifax, where she had been studying at Saint Mary's University.

Vigils were also held in Labrador City and St. John's in Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as in Quebec, Alberta, and Ontario.

Saunders, who was Inuit, had been researching the issue of violence against aboriginal women. Participants at the vigils were asked to support a petition calling for an inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women. 

Shawna Bird attended the vigil in Labrador City to reflect on her cousin's life. 

"She was really close with her family, and what she was studying was really close to her heart and something that she really believed in," Bird said.

Shawna Bird, right, says of her cousin: 'What she was studying was really close to her heart.' (CBC)
"It's really important for everyone to see what she was trying to put through to everyone, and to take something from it and make a little change in your own life."

Victoria Henneberry and Blake Leggette, who had been Saunders' roommates, have been charged with first-degree murder in Saunders' Feb. 13 death. 

Police have not made a connection between her death and her aboriginal status. 

'This is enough'

Nonetheless, vigil participants said they want action on an issue that mattered to Saunders. 

"She really won the hearts of everyone who was following up on it," said St. John's vigil organizer Marlaina Adams, describing the early days of the case when people across the country got involved in the search for Saunders.

"When they ended up finding her body, of course, it shocked everyone. The fact that she was a university student and she was doing her honours thesis on missing and aboriginal women, the fact that she cared about so many other women out there, and this happened to her."

In Happy Valley-Goose Bay, speakers said Saunders has become an inspiration for action. 

"We should make the decision tonight that this is enough," said Sabina Hunter. 

"This is enough. I had enough. I hope that you have, too. "