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StFX community honours lost Indigenous sisters

by Betsy MacDonald

StFX community honours lost Indigenous sisters

Today, silence can be heard across the country. The Sisters in Spirit vigil held at St. Francis Xavier University today is one of many occurring throughout Canada to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women.

At the vigil – organized by the Aboriginal Students @ X Society, UnSilence the Violence and the StFX Aboriginal Student Advisor – an art installation of donated shoes represents the empty footwear of disappeared women, girls, men and boys. The vigil also includes volunteers handing out statistics on violence against Indigenous women, and signs displaying powerful messages such as “One Family, Three Decades, Two Murders.”

According to StFX Aboriginal Student Advisor Molly Peters, awareness is the goal. “If [people] walk away knowing that this is actually an issue in Canada then it was successful. One person walks away knowing that, then it was successful,” she said.

Peters noted that events such as this vigil are helping to draw support from allies, saying that “we’ve seen such an increase in participation not only from the StFX community but from the Antigonish community as well.”

Vigil organizer Ashley Julian found inspiration to take action from Ana Mae Aquash, whom she considers her “idol.” Aquash was a Mi’kmaq activist who was murdered in 1975 at age 30. Julian described a sense of “solidarity and humbleness in knowing that she’s home now and [that] we … uncovered her past.”

Peace is still elusive, however. Julian stressed the importance of “knowing that there’s hundreds of missing and murdered Aboriginal men and women out there today and just … getting that voice across so the federal government understands the inquiry that needs to take place just for all those families that are suffering.”

In the face of this pain, Julian sees hope in her generation. “…the Sisters in Spirit vigil is so great to get students involved on campus,” she said. Julian led a Mi’kmaq honour song during today’s vigil. The event will culminate in a candle lighting at 7:00 p.m. tonight.

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Topics: Indigenous
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