Nfld. & Labrador·Video

In Her Name vigil honours and remembers murdered and missing N.L. women

One by one the names of 117 murdered or missing women and girls were read aloud, often with the reader's voice cracking, talking about a loved one taken from them.

117 names read, a demand made for action

The family of Cortney Lake read out her name for the first time at the 'In Her Name' vigil. (Cal Tobin/CBC)

One by one the names of 117 murdered or missing women and girls were read aloud, often with the reader's voice cracking talking about a loved one taken from them. 

It's the fourth year the St. John's Status of Women's Council has helped organize this vigil. 

"You have mixed feelings when you read the names aloud," said the council's executive director, Jenny Wright.

"It's very difficult. Our whole staff, our whole team, all the organizers have just been profoundly sad all day."

A large sign filled with supportive signatures hung on a fence near the Colonial Building in St. John's. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

The council teamed up with the St. John's Native Friendship Centre to ensure that all 117 names, the oldest dating back to 1758, were read and the women represented.

"It's one of the rare vigils Canada where we honour both Indigenous and non-Indigenous women in one evening," Wright said. 

Last year the list contained 106 names, but the event aims to find more women or girls who history may have forgotten. For the 2017 vigil new names were added, including Cortney Lake's. The 24-year-old mother went missing in June and her disappearance is now a homicide investigation. Lake's mother, Lisa, tried her best to read her missing daughter's name but, overcome with emotion, she couldn't.

In Her Name vigil held in St. John's

4 years ago
Names of missing or murdered women read out loud. 1:56

In the crowd, wearing white shirts featuring her face and holding up pictures of her, a large group of Lake's loved ones openly wept during a moment of silence for the 117. 

"By reading them, by honouring them, by remembering them, you really feel that this is important and that this is necessary," Wright said.

 "In a way you're letting the community know that someone here is standing guard, and valuing them, and holding up these women's lives and their experiences and that they won't be forgotten."

Wright wants to take it a step further. Standing on the stairs of the Colonial Building in St. John's, a former home to the Newfoundland government, she called on the province to take action. 

Jenny Wright of the St. John's Status of Women Council wants people to let the province know that more needs to be done to protect women. (Cal Tobin/CBC)

"We are going to be demanding, once again, for a comprehensive, provincial-wide plan to end domestic violence, and all violence, against women and girls," said Wright. 

"We want an immediate task force struck to oversee a provincial plan."

Postcards addressed to Premier Dwight Ball were given out to the crowd, with Wright urging those at the vigil to make sure to let government know that 117 names is too many.

Candles for the 117 missing or murdered women and girls lit up the stairs at the Colonial Building. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)