The sound of beating drums filled the streets of Red Deer last night as about 100 people marched to remember the lives of missing and murdered indigenous women.
The fifth annual Sisters in Spirit Red Deer Memorial Vigil began at the Red Deer Native Friendship Society and finished at the Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery.
In 2014, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police reported they’re were 1,181 recorded incidents of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls across Canada.
One of those women is the sister of Red Deer resident Vikki Cowan. Cowan said her sister was murdered in 1984, and that it’s been a cold case ever since.
“She’s one of the women who need a voice. She was an amazing person who loved people and loved life. It’s important to continue to show support for all the women who are out there and need our help,” said Cowan.
Cowan said this was her first time attending a Sisters in Spirit vigil, and she was overwhelmed by the number of people who attended the event.
“These vigils have really made people aware across the entire country and the awareness is getting stronger every year,” said Cowan.
Theresa Larsen-Jonasson has been involved with Sisters in Spirt since it started in Red Deer in 2012.
Like Cowan, she lost a relative in the 1970s.
“She left for Vancouver and just slipped away. We never saw her again and don’t know what happened to her. We have to keep the awareness going because it keeps happening, even in Red Deer,” said Jonasson.
Alaina Scott, 11, also took part in the vigil and said she doesn’t want to see anymore indigenous women go missing or get murdered.
“I came out to support the missing people because I want it to stop. I don’t understand why it ever started. It’s sad,” said Scott.
In August the Government of Canada launched an independent inquiry to missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.
It will make recommendations on how to remove systemic cases of violence and increase the safety of indigenous women and girls.
The federal Government has provided $53.86 million to the inquiry over two years. The mandate is expected to be complete by the end of 2018. It was part of Justin Trudeau’s platform when he ran for Prime Minister.
The vigil was one of more than 100 taking place on Oct. 4 across the country.