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Lethbridge announces official day to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls

WATCH ABOVE: There were pleas for justice and calls to end violence at the annual Sisters in Spirit Vigil in Lethbridge on Friday. Emily Olsen has the story.

Members of the Lethbridge community are honouring the lives of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) this week.

The 13th annual Sisters in Spirit march from city hall to Galt Gardens on Friday evening was followed by a candlelit vigil and memorial in the gardens.

Members of the Indigenous community said prayers and shared their frustrations on the lack of response from the government in the cases of many missing and murdered Indigenous people.

READ MORE: ‘This is genocide’: Final MMIWG report says all Canadians have role in ending violence  

“My grandmother was beaten in an alley and murdered in Calgary, Alberta in 1999,” says Miss Blackfoot Canada, Selena Medicine Shield.

“And she never got justice.”

Stories like these were echoed by many at Friday’s event, with many speaking about brutally murdered mothers, sisters and friends from all across the country.

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“I don’t think it’s right that we have to be scared to leave our houses,” Medicine Shield said.

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The city of Lethbridge has announced that October 4th will now be marked as MMIWG Day, to shed light on the violence experienced by Indigenous women and girls in Canada, with hope to highlight problems specifically in the Lethbridge area.

READ MORE: Community walk in Stand Off, Alta., honours MMIWG

Sisters in Spirit organizer, Charlene Bruised Head-Mountain Horse says the non-Indigenous people in attendance grow in numbers each year.

“Without support of allies, it can’t be done,” she said.

Family members, Indigenous community members, and concerned citizens gather for the vigil every October 4th in more than 100 communities across Canada as well as internationally.

These gatherings serve to raise awareness and to provide support to families who have lost a loved one.

Bruised Head-Mountain Horse says they want people to know that the genocide and abuse of Indigenous women and children is ongoing.

“The frequency of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, it begins to tell us a huge message that we’re less-than,” she said.

“That’s something that we have to change. We have to want better. We have to put our elected officials to task and ask them how we are going to meet these challenges and put into action something substantial to make change.”

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READ MORE: Forced sterilization of women flagged in MMIWG report — it’s allegedly still happening

The most recent MMIWG report released in June contains more than 200 recommendations to the Canadian government.

The report calls the violence against First Nations, Metis and Inuit women and girls a form of “genocide” and a crisis “centuries in the making.”