More than 100 Montrealers gathered in Cabot Square to mark the 10th annual memorial march and vigil for Canada’s missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls.
The national Sisters In Spirit march and vigils was founded in 2005 by Bridget Tolley, an Algonquin from the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg in Quebec, about 135 kilometres north of Ottawa. Her mother was hit and killed by an RCMP cruiser in 2001.
‘We may have lost one sister, but it’s kind of like we all died with her too.’– Cheryl McDonald
“It’s 10 years later and nothing has changed. We are still asking for help, we need help now,” she said.
Tolley and others in attendance at events in Montreal and across the country are part of a national call for a public inquiry into the matter.
Some people hung red dresses outside as a way to commemorate lost loved ones.
Indigenous activists estimate more than 3,000 aboriginal women have been victims of homicide since 1980.
The RCMP’s latest reports estimate there have been about 1,181 cases of murdered or missing aboriginal women since then.
‘She just never came home’
Cheryl McDonald from Akwesasne, a Mohawk territory in southwestern Quebec, said her sister went missing in 1988. Since then, she’s battled a silent but persistent anger.
“She just went away one night and she just never came home. We looked for her, we searched the fields. We huddled together as a family, but it was a hunter that found her. And so we still have questions we ask ourselves that we don’t talk too much about as a family. But it forever changed my parents, and her three children who she left behind, as well as myself and my sisters. So we may have lost one sister, but it’s kind of like we all died with her too,” McDonald said.
She said greater co-operation and collaboration by federal, provincial, municipal and First Nations police forces is needed to truly help address the frequency with which indigenous women go missing or are killed.
“They need to speak together, they need to work together, they need to share expertise with one another. They need to create a network where families can go to police agencies with more equipment, more skills, more detectives who can deal with this,” McDonald said.