Family members, survivors create starblanket to honour missing and murdered women, girls and 2-spirit people

People in Saskatchewan came together last month to create a meaningful starblanket, made as the result of pain and grief.

'They were loved,' says Prince Albert participant about killed family members

Some of the squares made by family members of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people for the starblanket. (Submitted by Linda Johnson)

People in Saskatchewan came together last month to create a meaningful starblanket, made as the result of pain and grief.

The Starblanket Collaboration is part of the Re-Igniting Sacred Fires initiative by the Aboriginal Friendship Centres of Saskatchewan (AFCS). The project honours the lives and legacies of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and Two-Spirit (MMIWG2S) people, the organization says on its website.

In February, families and survivors of MMIWG2S people came together for sessions in four Saskatchewan cities to create squares to pay tribute to their loved-ones.

The pieces were then put together in one joint commemorative blanket.

"Having our blanket makers be able to weave each piece together for one blanket is very meaningful," said Linda Johnson, program manager at AFCS.

"It's a healing process, too."

Participant in Prince Albert remembers 6 family members

Providing this opportunity to families who have lost loved-ones was important, said Johnson.

People came together between Feb. 17 and 24, 2022, at the Saskatoon Indian and Métis Friendship Centre, the Battleford Indian & Métis Friendship Centre, Prince Albert Indian & Métis Friendship Centre, and the Newo Yotina Friendship Centre in Regina, according to AFCS.

One of the participants in Prince Albert was Sara Daniels from James Smith Cree Nation. Six of her close family members have been murdered, including her brother and sister, she said.

"They were loved and … they're special to me," said Daniels. "I like that we could come together and just empower one another and honour our loved-ones."

The square Daniels made for the starblanket depicts a feather that breaks off into flying birds. The piece also includes the names of her loved-ones who were taken.

The Starblanket Collaboration was the last project of the AFCS' Re-Igniting Sacred Fires and brings the initiative to a close, explained Johnson.

Elders and support staff were on site during the four sessions to assist the blanket makers, she said. 

"We were very thankful that we did have the mental health support there," said the AFCS program manager.

"There was a lot of laughs, there was crying. We hope that relationships were built so that these families know … they're not alone, and there's many people that, unfortunately, are going through this."

Blanket maker Maureen Ledoux at one of the sessions at the Battleford Indian & Metis Friendship Centre. (Submitted by Linda Johnson)

Advice from elders needed before unveiling the blanket

The individual squares have since been woven together and the starblanket has been made, said Johnson.

Now they want to speak with elders for more guidance before unveiling the blanket.

Daniels is looking forward to seeing the finished starblanket, but she knows it will be emotional.

"It'll help with our healing process," she said. "To know that we're honouring our loved-ones and that people will get the chance to hear their stories."

With files from Candice Lipski, Saskatoon Morning