PEI

Missing, murdered aboriginal women honoured at Charlottetown vigil

Missing and murdered aboriginal woman were remembered at a Sisters in Spirit vigil at Confederation Landing in Charlottetown with prayer, songs and silence.

Sisters in Spirit vigils held across Canada to support grieving families

This is the 10th anniversary of the Sisters in Spirit vigils remembering murdered and missing aboriginal women, which are held all across Canada. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Missing and murdered aboriginal woman were remembered at a Sisters in Spirit vigil at Confederation Landing in Charlottetown in pray, song and silence.

I've seen a lot of changes and it's positive.- Judy Clark

The vigil was one of many held across Canada to support grieving families.

Community members shared how the tragedies have touched them.

"Her name was Debbie — she was murdered in her home — and it really did impact me," said Matilda Ramjattan, chief of Lennox Island First Nation.

"I know a lot of other First Nations across the country have been impacted, and they are still waiting for their loved ones to call home, come home, or at least to be found." 

'We live it on a daily basis'

The vigil is organized by a number of aboriginal and community groups as well as the provincial and federal governments. 

Participants talked about the violence that has caused the deaths and disappearances of aboriginal girls and women.

"They impact families and communities because we live it on a daily basis. [It is] important put a stop to it now, and work together to find the root causes to these types of violence and create meaningful solutions as we move forward," said Brian Francis who is chief of Abegweit First Nation.

Many say the best way to move forward is a national inquiry into missing and murdered women.

They hope that vigils like these will help. 

"I think it was great, raised a lot of questions, I think that we need to come together. I think community has to be aware of issues," said Lisa Cooper, president of the Native Council of P.E.I.

Safe place to talk about abuse

"I think we need to call on the provincial and federal government to help us, as aboriginal organizations, to reduce the factors that lead our women to be vulnerable in our community."

The vigil is important to let aboriginal women know that although the province's aboriginal community is small, it's safe to talk about issues around abuse, said Judy Clark, president of the Aboriginal Women's Association of P.E.I.

"I've seen a lot of changes and it's positive," she said.

"We just continue to have to support our women, to say it's safe to speak out because there's a lot of people that are listening."

The association has developed a resource book of contacts to connect aboriginal women suffering from abuse with people and groups who can help.

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