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Sisters in Spirit vigils held across Alberta for MMIWG

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WATCH ABOVE: Oct. 4 marks Sisters in Spirit Day, an annual initiative across the country to remember and honour missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. In Alberta, calls for justice were loud as people walked and gathered to have their voices heard. Chris Chacon reports – Oct 4, 2020

Oct. 4 marks Sisters in Spirit Day, an annual initiative across the country to remember and honour missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

In Alberta, calls for justice were loud as people walked and gathered to have their voices heard.

“We’re walking from Maskwacis to Wetaskiwin to honour the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women,” Chevi Rabbit, organizer of the Wetaskiwin Sisters in Spirit walk, said.

“The walk is more symbolic. It shows a gesture towards all the families that have gone through violence and discrimination and hate, so we’re walking for [those] who can’t be here,” Rabbit said.

Read more: Sisters in Spirit vigil held in Edmonton

Calgary’s 16th annual Sisters in Spirit vigil brought people together on Sunday to honour the “thousands of [MMIWG] who have been so cruelly wrenched from their families,” organizers said.
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“This event is to really bring attention to the injustices that continue to happen but it’s also to give hope to those families that we have not forgotten,” organizer Chantal Chagon said.

The Calgary event, with the theme “reclaiming power and place,” featured drumming, a march along Stephen Avenue to the city hall plaza and speeches from families who have lost loved ones.

Read more: Demands for justice renewed as Canada marks MMIWG day of awareness

It’s about bringing attention to more safety and justice, recognizing human rights and ensuring action is taken on the national inquiry.

“Unfortunately, the government has really stalled, kind of dragging its feet, and so we’re hoping events like this that we do yearly will stir them to action,” Chagon said.

Although these events were held in different places, the message and calls for justice are aligned.

“There [are] all kinds of statistics out there for the government to look at and to take action on. I would like to see some action,” said Katherine Swampy, a supporter at the Wetaskiwin Sisters in Spirit walk.

Read more: Sisters in Spirit Day honours missing and murdered Indigenous women in downtown Calgary

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The federal government said work is underway to co-develop the national action plan with Indigenous governments and organizations, and federal, provincial and territorial governments.

“Provincially, I’m leading that along… to move forward some of the things in the report so that we can put an end to what’s happening with missing murdered Indigenous women,” Minister of Indigenous Relations Rick Wilson said.

It’s work that can’t come soon enough for people wanting change.

“These walks are amazing. They create a visual for the public but we need more than that. We need people to walk their talk now,” Rabbit said.

– With files from Global News’ Kaylen Small