Canada

Edmonton's aboriginal community holds 'Stolen Sisters' march

Family and friends of missing aboriginal women held a rally in Edmonton on Saturday to raise awareness of the unsolved disappearances.

About 150 family membersand friends of missingaboriginal women held a rallyin Edmonton on Saturday to raise awareness of theunsolved disappearances.

April Eve Wiberg, one of the organizers, said that over the last 20 years, more than 500 aboriginal women in Canada have been murdered or simply disappeared. ((CBC))

Organizers of the Stolen Sisters Awareness March said they staged the event to remind people of the grim realitiessome aboriginal women face.

They sayfar too many —in particular thosewho live on the streets, are drug addicts or work as prostitutes—havedisappeared without their families knowing what has happened to them.

As she marched Saturday, Barb L'Hirondelle clutched a picture of her daughter Carmen, whowas killedthree years ago. L'Hirondelle now acts as mother tothethree grandchildren, who joined her in the rally.

"Tomorrow, of course, being Mother's Day, is really really rough, not having her here to comfort her children, to talk to, to hold them," she told CBC News.

April Eve Wiberg, one of the organizers, said thatover the last 20 years, more than 500 aboriginal women in Canada have been murdered or simply disappeared.

"I'm hoping to raise awareness," she said. "I'm hoping by everyone coming out and supporting us that the authorities will take these cases more seriously and treat them equally.

"And as an aboriginal community, I don't think that our ancestors would have put up with this and remained silent, so why should we?"

Connie Benwell hopes breaking that silence will help her find her daughter, Leanne Benwell, 27, who has been missing since March 12. She's a drug addict and she has been living on the streets for the last five years.

"It's terrifying," Benwell said. "I have no clue where she is. My worst fear is that she'll show up dead, but I hope that's not the case."

Dawn LaRose-Lawrence lived on the streets for 30 years.In that time, she met many women whose lives ended tragically, and wrotetheir names on the poster she carried with heras she walked Saturday.

"I'd love it if people started looking at it, seeing it, and not trying to sweep it under the rug," shesaid."It's a big fact that its going on right now."

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