EDMONTON — The day before Edmonton hosts a forum for the National Inquiry for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, about 100 people gathered in the city’s Churchill Square to hold an emotional vigil for those who lost their lives through violence.
In some cases, people attending the vigil said they have mourned the loss of several loved ones.
Patsy Campbell, of Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation in northwestern Alberta, said her mother was murdered in Edmonton when she was just nine years old. Then in 1990, her little sister disappeared in Grande Prairie.
“She was missing for six months before they found her in a back alley, rolled up in curtains and rugs and just disregarded like she wasn’t anything,” Campbell said.
“They were somebody…our family went through a lot of trauma (by) not having a mother in our life and ended up in the child welfare system.”
“I’m hoping to be a voice for my mother and sister in the process,” she said.
Thursday’s pre-inquiry forum is one of several being held across the country ahead of the national inquiry. It is being organized by the Assembly of First Nations and the AFN Women’s Council in order for members of Treaty Six First Nations to be able to engage in the process.
The Trudeau government commissioned the inquiry shortly after winning the federal election in October after campaigning on a promise to spend $40 million over two years on the examination.
Campbell said she thanks the Prime Minister for calling the inquiry in the first place.
“Finally a Prime Minister that acknowledges us as a people.”
She added she hopes the inquiry won’t become just another report that sits on the shelf after it’s completed.
“The pudding is going to be in the recommendations and are they going to be implemented,” she said. “That’s going to be the telling success story of missing and murdered.”
For Rachel Manichoose, who said she is a survivor and comes from a family of survivors, being at Wednesday’s vigil was a special occasion.
“(It’s) empowering to know that there’s so many people that want the healing to begin, that want to find their voices, that want to be heard,” she said.
Campbell said the vigil was therapeutic for her too.
“Probably the biggest thing is I know I’m not alone,” she said.
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett will be at Thursday’s pre-inquiry forum in Edmonton before attending similar forums in Calgary on Friday and in Ottawa on Monday.
With files from Shallima Maharaj, Global News