Memorial benches for MMIWG installed in Yellowknife parks
President of the Native Women's Association of the N.W.T. says benches are physical reminders of a message
A pair of Yellowknife parks are now home to memorials for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
Four memorial benches have been installed: two at Rotary Park and two at Somba K'e Park.
A commemorative ceremony was held at Rotary Park on Friday to unveil the benches. About 40 people attended the event, which included a fire feeding ceremony.
Jane Weyallon, the president of the Native Women's Association of the N.W.T., says the benches are physical reminders of an important message for men.
"The men, they need to start speaking out against violence against girls, and say, 'It needs to stop now. We need to stop it.' We need to teach those little kids at the elementary level that it's wrong to hit, that it's wrong to say bad things against others," she said.
Weyallon says people in the communities also need to stop victim blaming.
"If anything happens, they blame the girl or they say they're good for nothing. All kinds of words, like bad, negative words come out and that they're supporting their kids, their sons for what they're doing."
William Greenland is a counsellor at the Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation's healing camp in Yellowknife and he co-hosted the ceremony.
During his final remarks he spoke about the need for men to take responsibility.
"I've worked with a lot of our men where we got to a place where we could begin to learn how to take responsibility for our own actions," he said.
"I've seen some change in our communities where men begin to realize that, 'Yes, I have to take responsibility for what I have done,' [and] not always saying, 'Well, if she hadn't done this or she hadn't said that, it would never have happened.'"