By Treena Mielke
A group dedicated to helping the oppressed and downtrodden from all walks of life took part in a Sisters in Spirit vigil Oct. 4 honoring the lives of missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls.
The Rimbey Group of Amnesty International and some out-of-town guests lit candles of hope against the darkness of violence and oppression that continues to plague these women.
During the vigil, held outside the Beatty House in Rimbey, Debbie Oostindie from Sylvan Lake, who stood in the circle around a campfire with those who held lighted candles, spoke of her aboriginal roots and also recited a short Baha’i prayer.
Marian Slomp also recited the First Nations prayer, Mother Moon.
Also as part of the vigil, Annette Boorman passed out papers with the names of murdered and missing aboriginal girls and women, the names were read, and the papers dropped into the fire.
Florence Stemo from the Rimbey Group of Amnesty International, said the vigil is a way of bringing attention to the plight of Aboriginal Women. “It is being held in memory of them and also as a way to signify hope for the future.”
Information from the Native Women’s Association of Canada was read nationwide on Oct. 4 as part of the movement of Sisters in Spirit vigils states as of March 31, 2010 the NWAC has found 582 cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls. As of last year, the Sisters In Spirit initiative has found that no charges have been laid in 40 per cent of known homicide cases involving aboriginal women, the statement reads.
“As Canadians we should ask ourselves why so many of our Aboriginal sisters are treated as a statistic. 2010 is the fifth year of the Vigil movement; let’s make 2010 the year Canadians finally take concrete action to defend the lives of Aboriginal women and girls,” the release states.
The Rimbey Group of Amnesty International has supported a number of causes throughout the years. The Sisters in Spirit vigil is one of many activities the group has participated in since its formation several years ago.
The group has responded to situations in both Nicaragua and Colombia by circulating a petition that was sent to the government of Nicaragua, requesting legislation and action to improve the life of women and girls in that county.
Members also wrote letters to the Canadian government, reminding them of their promise that the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement was to result in greater pressure to improve human rights in Colombia.
The group has also hosted Muffins in May as part of its effort to promote local awareness and understanding of the full range of human rights and the efforts of Amnesty International to top all forms of abuse.
Amnesty International was founded in 1961 by the late Peter Benenson as a one-year campaign for the release of six prisoners of conscience. Since that time, the organization has grown into a worldwide movement for human rights, taking up the cases of many thousands of victims of human rights violations throughout the world.