A two-day gathering started Wednesday in Prince Albert, Sask., to recognized missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG), and those who attended residential schools.
A new monument to honour survivors and victims was unveiled along the riverbank Wednesday, a lasting reminder of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls in the province.
“The monument depicts the missing lady, the child and the grandmother because when someone goes missing it affects the whole family,” explained Shirley Henderson.
Henderson is chair of Prince Albert Grand Council’s Women’s Commission. She said she hopes the monument leads to healing of past and present hurts.
One of the artists said she wants her work to reflect Indigenous people’s strength and resilience, and that they still remember their lost brothers and sisters.
“The red warrior paint on their faces is a symbol of the power and strength and knowledge that they carry that’s naturally in our blood as a gift from our ancestors,” said Tristen Sanderson.
On Thursday, the commission is holding an awareness walk for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and men.
The two-day event is a time to come together, something it said is more important now than ever with the discovery of over 1,000 unmarked graves at residential schools in Saskatchewan and British Columbia.
The commission said the walk is also to honour the survivors and victims of residential schools.
“Most people didn’t realize we had so many people that were buried so we wanted to recognize those children, they’re very important to the women’s commission because a lot of them were family members,” Henderson said.
A healing circle is also part of the planned events, where both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people are encouraged to attend.
The commission said they are hopeful for change for First Nations after Ottawa signed a historic deal with the Cowessess First Nation, giving it jurisdiction over its children in care anywhere in Canada.
Read more: Cowessess First Nation becomes 1st to control its child welfare system. Here’s how it works
It’s something many First Nations are expected to follow, according to Henderson.
“It’s very important. I mean, they should be looking after their own children. They (the children) shouldn’t be handed over to the province,” she said.
The events continue Thursday with the walk at 9 a.m.