At noon on Feb. 14, roughly 35 people gathered to take part in a march for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG).
Cheryl Rule, an organizer, said that the march was a result of a local MMIWG committee that has been active and holding meetings since June of last year.
The Committee is comprised of members from School District 58: Cheryl Rule, Burt Bergmann, Chelley Lacerte-Oppenheim, Amanda Adams, Erin Switzer, Jane Kempston, and Paula Moyes, Scw’exmx Health: Lucille Henry and May George, Monty Joseph of Scw’exmx Child and Family Services, RCMP members Cst. Tracy Dunsmore and Cst. Rose Grant, as well as Sue Sterling-Bur from NVIT and Melissa Moses, women’s rep for the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.
“The purpose of our committee is to raise awareness for the missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirited, but we’re also recognizing boys and men, because it’s not just women and girls that go missing or are murdered,” said Rule.
Rule and other committee members hope that by raising awareness of the situation they can stop violence within their community and also support those most impacted, such as happened in Oct. 2021 when the committee visited a site where a community member had been murdered.
“We brought in hand drummers and some dancers,” said Rule.
“We had a meal together and we shared the experience, it was for the family that had this tragedy.”
The Feb. 14 event coincided with the 31st annual Women’s Memorial March in Vancouver. The MMIWG committee hopes to continue to make these marches a regular occurrence.
“We want to continue to keep this moving forward,” said Rule.
The group marched from Central Park to City Furniture and back, undeterred by the snowy weather, with Amanda Adams commenting, “Snow is a blessing, it cleanses us. Mother Earth is helping us, by blessing us with snow.”
SD58 donated giveaway items with Rule handing out MMIWG pins, Every Child Matters decals and sage as gifts.
“We’re planning on bringing more awareness and safety plans to the School District,” Rule added.
“In order to do this work we’re providing different sessions, and our next session we’re planning is with the School District, and we’re bringing teachers and community together to talk about what it means for the missing and murdered.”