Sisters in Spirit vigil in Sudbury honours missing, murdered Indigenous women and girls

The City of Greater Sudbury officially proclaimed Oct. 4 as Sisters in Spirit day in the city. More than 60 people marched in the downtown Wednesday in memory of the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls from across Canada.

Drum circle and march hosted by N'Swakamok Native Friendship Centre and Greater Sudbury Police

More than 60 people participated in the Sisters in Spirit Vigil in Sudbury, Ont. The group held a drum circle in Memorial Park and then marched to the N'Swakamok Native Friendship Centre on Pine Street. (Robin De Angelis/CBC)

A large crowd took the streets of Sudbury Wednesday to honour and remember missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

More than 60 people gathered for the 6th annual Sisters in Spirit vigil, held in the downtown of the northern Ontario city.

Every year on Oct. 4, the Native Women's Association of Canada holds the Sisters in Spirit Vigil. Communities across the country gather for prayers, rallies and community feasts.

The Sudbury event was hosted by the N'Swakamok Native Friendship Centre and Greater Sudbury Police Services. 

Violence against Indigenous women is an act of terrorism says Brad Robinson, the cultural resource coordinator with N'Swakamok Native Friendship Centre.
Brad Robinson is the Cultural Resource Coordinator with N'Swakamok Native Friendship Centre. (Robin De Angelis/CBC)

"If it's an ongoing thing, which it is, it should also be acknowledged as an act of internal terrorism because really that's ... terrorizing those women and children who are afraid to go out, afraid to do certain things that they should not normally be afraid to do," says Robinson.

"I want to stand beside those who are trying to change their lives and maybe change the relationships that they're in and the dynamics of those relationship by caring and love, instead of violence and hate."

The personal stories really hit home says Lisa Osawamick, the Aboriginal violence prevention coordinator with Sudbury police.

"It's a really sensitive subject and it's hard for individuals to do that healing when they lost somebody they loved, so it was nice to have that acknowledgement and family members stand up and honour their loved ones."
Eladia Smoke says she was at the Sisters in Spirit Vigil to remember the women who have walked on and to honour their spirits as well. (Robin De Angelis/CBC)

Eladia Smoke was at the vigil because there are lots of strong women in her family.

"I'm here on behalf of the women who are doing such incredible work in our community still, but also remembering the women who have walked on — not by their choice — and honouring their spirit as well."

She says it was great to see so many men at the event. 

"Because ultimately this isn't a woman's problem, it's a man's problem and we need our men with us. So it's great to see them at the head of the line with the eagle staffs," Smoke says.

The flag in front of the police headquarters on Brady Street was lowered to half mast to honour those Indigenous women and girls who are missing or have been murdered.

The City of Greater Sudbury has officially proclaimed Oct. 4 as Sisters in Spirit Day.

With files from Robin De Angelis