A Red Deer resident has honoured her murdered sister by taking part in an annual vigil to remember missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls across the country.
For Vikki Cowan, Dec. 17, 1984, was the hardest day of her life. It’s when her sister Susan Anne Siegel, 21, was murdered in Toronto.
She, along with dozens, attended the sixth annual Sisters in Spirit vigil to remember missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls across the country.
“I miss my sister with all my heart,” said Cowan. “She was a dream.”
According to a Toronto Police Service document Cowan provided, the cold case file victim, Siegel, was discovered on a sidewalk. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Residents walked for their sisters, daughters, mothers, aunts, from the Red Deer Native Friendship Society to the Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery for a sharing circle.
They shared stories of women who have been lost, whose bodies have never been found and their cases — never solved, said Lianne Hazel, director of administration at the Red Deer Native Friendship Society.
That’s why the sharing circle is part of Red Deer’s ceremony. People shared their stories and received support from everyone in the room.
“In some cases, women who have gone missing, and have either turned up dead or families have never heard from them again,” she said.
The case numbers are high, explained Hazel.
“In Canada, we have more than 1,200 missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls whose cases have never been solved and one is far too many,” she said.
Sisters in Spirit honours, remembers and brings awareness to the missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls across the country. The Sisters in Spirit movement in Red Deer started six years ago.
The turnout at the annual ceremony is about a 100 and about 65 residents took part in the 2017 vigil.
Sisters in Spirit first started on Oct. 4, 2006, by the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) marking the day to honour lost loved ones.
The first year, there were 11 events in Canada. Today, that number has increased to more than 200 ceremonies coast-to-coast.
The movement is an important one, said Hazel, who wants to see action from the government. She credits the government for starting the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, but there’s more to be done.
“I’m glad this case is in front of politician’s minds. However, there has been a lot of studying, and I believe it’s time to put some action in place,” she said.