MONCTON, N.B. – A Sisters in Spirit ceremony was held at NBCC Moncton on Friday to commemorate the national day recognizing missing and murdered aboriginal women.
The day is officially marked across Canada on October 4.
Lorise Simon, from the Elsipogtog First Nation, spoke about her sister, Gladys Simon, who went missing in 2004, while going for a walk in Sugerloaf Mountain. Her remains were not found for eight years.
“We didn’t know where she was or what happened to her,” Simon told the audience. “Just the worrying about her and thinking about her, you know.”
“We had our own little language, you know,” Simon told Global News. “We used to call each other names. Like, she used to call me ‘drowl’ or ‘drool’ and I used to call her ‘Glad garbage bag.'”
The ceremony also paid special attention to the story of Loretta Saunders, a Halifax university student murdered last year.
On Friday, NBCC student Hannah Qaunaq received a $1000 bursary in her honour. NBCC students and staff fund-raised $500 towards the bursary and the NBCC Foundation matched the amount.
Qaunag is a first-year sheet metal fabrication student originally from Igloolik, Nunavut.
“I’m so honoured,” she told Global News.”I didn’t know about it. But when I was asked to apply for it, I had looked up Loretta Saunders story, and I was shocked how many people were missing and murdered. That really touched me.”
The Sisters in Spirit vigil is a day for communities to come together to grieve and heal. This year, organizers in Moncton added an initiative originally started in Saskatchewan – the red dress campaign. Red dresses were hung or placed near the vigil to remember a life lost. One dress for each of them.
Patty Musgrave, the Aboriginal Student Adviser, at NBCC Moncton and the organizer of the event said she hoped the day brought awareness.
“I think that in Atlantic Canada, we hear about what’s going on in Alberta or Winnipeg, or B.C., we don’t really associate it with us here in little Moncton, New Brunswick,” she said. “It’s really important because we do have women that have been missing and murdered here in New Brunswick.”