North

Plans underway for MMIWG monument in Whitehorse

Several First Nations groups in Yukon are working to erect a monument in Whitehorse to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

Input from families has been crucial 'because it is for and about their loved ones,' says project coordinator

A sacred fire ceremony in Whitehorse last month marked the release of Yukon's Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-spirit+ (MMIWG2S+) strategy. Some local groups have also been working over the last couple of years to erect a monument in Whitehorse to honour the murdered and missing. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC)

Several First Nations groups in Yukon are working to erect a monument in Whitehorse, to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

The "Finding Peace Project" has put out a call for proposals from artists interested in designing and building the monument. The goal is to see it unveiled in Whitehorse sometime this summer.

"This has been like a two-year process, to get the families' input and what they would like to have as a monument," said Colleen Geddes, a Teslin Tlingit citizen and one of the project's coordinators.

The Yukon Aboriginal Women's Council is leading the project, with funding from Women and Gender Equality Canada (formerly Status of Women Canada).

'It is for and about [families'] loved ones'

As part of the planning, families of the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Yukon and northern B.C. were given information booklets with pictures of other commemorative monuments across Canada and around the world.

"So that's what the families were given, to just get some ideas. We will be placing it along the riverfront, so it'll be, I think, quite substantial," Geddes said.

"We're doing this with including the families, you know, because it is for and about their loved ones. So their input is the main priority."

She says it's been hard for some people to participate.

"It's very emotional. And, you know, I honour the families that are able to assist us, and the ones that sometimes, it's just too difficult."

The request for proposals from artists closes this weekend, and then the committee will select one by the end of February.

Geddes calls it an important project.   

"I'm thinking the families are finally feeling that maybe they're being heard enough and there's some understanding and compassion for what's been going on," she said. 

With files from James Miller

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