The walk highlights the ongoing issue of violence towards Indigenous women, girls, and gender diverse people.
“Before the research started, there was five cases identified of women who were missing and murdered in the Yukon. To date, there are now 41 cases that have been identified in the Yukon alone. YAWC adds one to symbolize that Indigenous woman are still targeted today,” Joy O’Brien of Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation said outside of the Whitehorse RCMP detachment this afternoon. She is the MMIWG Outreach Program Coordinator and Senior Advisor at the Yukon Aboriginal Women’s Council.
Around 100 people gathered with her for this years Sisters in Spirit Walk and Vigil to highlight the ongoing issue of violence towards Indigenous women, girls, and gender diverse people in the Yukon and Northern BC, and to advocate for the calls for justice of the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
It was part of a country wide showing of solidarity. A Sisters in Spirit event was also put on in Dawson City by the Dawson Women’s Shelter, as well, walks and vigils were held across Canada. The one in Whitehorse has been put on annually since 2010, and it’s organized by the Yukon Aboriginal Women’s Council in partnership with the Native Women’s Association of Canada.
With drums in hand and red dresses lining their path, the group made their way on foot from the police station to the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre where they crowded around a sacred fire.
Cindy Allen of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation from Northwest Territories, spoke of her grandmother, Marie-Adele Doctor, a Dene Elder who lost their life in 2009.
“I am still searching for the truth about my granny and what happened to her. Sadly, it was another woman who assaulted my grandmother in her own home, and I’m not pleased with the outcome. That person got four months for the death of my grandmother and I have not received an apology and neither has the family,” said Allen.
O’Brien says one of the best things people can do for each other as they heal, is to be kind and compassionate.