Roughly 100 people took place in the annual Women’s Memorial March to remember and honour Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls.
The Feb. 14 walk began at Tsulquate Bridge and participants marched to Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw’s Wakas Hall.
The march was organized in partnership with Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Health and Family Services, North Island Building Blocks, Ministry of Children and Family Development, and Sacred Wolf Friendship Centre.
Women’s Memorial marches take place annually on Valentine’s day across the country to raise awareness and honour murdered and missing women.
A march to honour Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls was also held in Port Hardy in October to correspond with the Sisters in Spirit Vigils which are an initiative of the Native Women’s Association of Canada.
Before the Valentines day march started participants shared hugs, tears, and comforted each other and some participants carried signs and photos in memory of their loved ones who were either murdered or missing.
Salla Sukow from Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw health and family services placed a bouquet of flowers on Tsulquate Bridge.
“I’m going to have people take a flower, so they can say a prayer and put it in the river because in our culture the river never stops it just keeps going on,” said Sukow.
A light lunch was served and speeches were given at the Wakas Hall.
“Gila’kasla’ for each one of you for coming today. What we are doing today is commemorating murdered and missing Aboriginal women. What does it mean to all of us?,” said Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Chief Paddy Walkus, before lunch was served at the hall.
“When you think about the matriarch we talk about how important they are to our families, keeping us strong – It is so fitting for us to acknowledge just a little bit of that in the support and the love you have given today. I welcome each one of you to our community and pray that all will go well,” added Walkus.
The day concluded with a traditional cleansing and candlelight vigil.