A powerful ceremony was held Friday at the Grey Eagle Hotel on the Tsuut’ina First Nation. A memorial in honour of an Indigenous woman who was murdered in 1982.
Laney Ewenin was 23 years old when her life was taken. She was left to die alone in the freezing cold. Her murder remains unsolved.
A special bench carved out of stone was unveiled at a sacred ceremony with friends and family Friday. Ewenin’s sister, Deborah Green, was very moved by the presentation.
“She is smiling in spirit for doing this for her,” she said.
“We prayed for her to be with us today and bring strength to our family, this is in honour of her, to keep her memory alive, that she’s never forgotten.”
The piece of art serves as a reminder of the hopeful fight to bring peace and justice to all the missing and murdered indigenous women across the country. Laney’s sister, Danielle Ewenin, said it helps bring attention to all the “stolen sisters.”
“Indigenous women have 85 per cent more chance of being raped or being murdered and missing than they do of going to university, getting married and having children,” she said. “We hope people reflect on that and bring changes to society.”
The bench will eventually be moved to a permanent, soon-to-be-built memorial park on Tsuut’ina land honouring all the missing and murdered Indigenous women.
Chief Lee Crowchild said he didn’t hesitate to help the family commemorate Laney’s life.
“Collectively, we are all about taking care of each other, the time of marginalization has passed,” he said. “Canada sees the need for a bigger dialogue to happen. Us at Tsuut’ina, when families are impacted, the rest of the community goes to catch their tears to help them.”
The stone sculptor artist, Dale Kastelen, said he was privileged to be commissioned for the piece.
“We’ve been saving boulders from the ring road that were dug up on Tsuut’ina,” Kastelen said.
“We now have large fields of massive boulders. To us, those rocks hold the spirit of the land, the people and animals that lived over them for thousands of years. We try to save them for purposes such as this.”