Candles and prayers were raised in memory of Canada’s hundreds of missing and murdered Aboriginal women during a 4th annual Sisters in Silence Vigil, held at the Beatty House on Oct. 4.
Rimbey’s Amnesty International chapter hosted the event with local residents, Maskwacis community members and other guests coming from as far as Nordegg.
The vigil started with burning sweetgrass in prayer for the victims of tragedy; candles and short biographies of just a handful of the victims were handed out.
“Each of us will have a candle to shine a light on the tragedy,” said Amnesty International Rimbey representative Annette Boorman.
In turn participants read a biography of a woman before letting the paper burn in the fire pit. Some told stories of young girls, women with autism and others taken right from their homes.
Sisters in Spirit is a Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) initiative working to raise awareness and research for the missing women.
The NWAC has gathered information on 582 cases of Canadian Aboriginal women along with many accompanying statistics:
• 67 per cent are murder cases
• 20 per cent are cases of missing women or girls
• 4 per cent are cases of suspicious death
• 9 per cent are cases where the nature of the case is unknown
• 55 per cent involve women and girls under the age of 31, with 17 per cent of women and girls 18 years of age or younger.Only 8 per cent of cases involve women over 45
• 53 per cent of murder cases involving Aboriginal women and girls have led to charges of homicide. This is dramatically different from the national clearance rate for homicides in Canada, which was last reported as 8 per cent (Statistics Canada2005)
According to the NWAC website, “NWAC’s research indicates that, between 2000 and 2008, Aboriginal women and girls represented approximately 10 per cent of all female homicides in Canada. However, Aboriginal women make up only 3 percent of the female population.”