People gathered in downtown Chilliwack Saturday to stand in solidarity during a nationwide endeavour to draw attention to the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW).
The group of about 30 people was at Five Corners donning red clothing as part of MMIW Takes Back Canada.
Women and men sang the Women’s Warrior song to the beat of several drums as sage was burned. They then lined the streets with signs and chanted “No more stolen sisters” as car passed by and honked.
They were there not just to recognize missing Indigenous women, but all women who have gone missing, said Chief Brenda Wallace of Soowahlie First Nation.
Family members of missing B.C. women spoke briefly at the event about April Parisian, a Hope women who went missing almost a year ago and Dawn Crey who vanished in 2000 and whose DNA was found at the Pickton farm. Shaelene Bell’s name was also mentioned. She is a 23-year-old mother of two who was last seen on Jan. 30. (See links to their stories at the bottom of this article.)
People in cities across the country took part in MMIW Takes Back Canada and they were encouraged to hang a red dress in their window and stand in their drive with an MMIW sign.
In Abbotsford there was a walk organized by Krista Macinnis who said she and others are fed up with the issue of MMIW not being a priority with the government.
This walk in Abbotsford was triggered by the murder of 28-year-old Jana Williams, whose remains were found March 4 on the edge of the Red River in Winnipeg. Macinnis said the family, who is from the Hollow Water First Nation, has revealed Williams was six months pregnant and her body was found stuffed in a suitcase.
Macinnis also pointed to the 2014 murder of Tina Fontaine, 15, who was from the Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba. Her body was found wrapped in plastic and a duvet cover in the Red River.
“How many more mothers need to pull their babies out of ditches, suitcases, garbage bags, rivers before this becomes a priority?” Macinnis asked in a TikTok video. “Could you imagine finding your child like that? Nothing about this is right or OK. No more stolen sisters!”
Macinnis said there needs to be more awareness and acknowledgement, particularly from police and government, that Indigenous women are 10 times more likely to go missing than non-Indigenous women and that they are being murdered.
She said MMIW Takes Back Canada was a way for people to “stand in solidarity with our stolen sisters.”
– with files by Vikki Hopes