Marching for those who’ve disappeared

Fifth annual event in Memorial Peace Park

For the fifth year, drumming and singing and walking took place Friday to honour women who’ve disappeared throughout Canada. Yvonne organizes the local version of the Women’s Memorial March for murdered and missing women and girls every year in tribute to her mom who was kidnapped from her workplace in Calgary.

In that instance, someone was charged and convicted, though she said that’s not the usual case. “The women need to be found. They need to be brought home,” she said.

“The march honours the beloved daughters, sisters, mothers, aunties and friends whose lives were stolen by violence,” said Premier John Horgan on Friday.

He was commenting on the Vancouver march that’s taken place for 29 years. He added that Indigenous women, elders, families and community members, have been powerful activists to end violence. “It is these grassroots advocates who have been first in line to hold authorities to account in the fight for justice to keep women and girls safe,” Horgan said. Darell Gaddie was at the Maple Ridge march and knows what it’s like to have a family member disappear. His niece, Danita Big Eagle, disappeared without a trace in Regina in approximately 2011. 

Gaddie said she went outside to have a cigarette and never came back. “She was just gone,” he said. Gaddie is Cree-Saulteux, from Saskatchewan, who now lives in Maple Ridge, and said it will take a long time for indigenous people to gain equality, just as it did for Afro-Americans in the U.S.

Now, it’s acceptable to have a black chief executive at a company, but that’s not the case with indigenous people, he added.

Read more: Final leg of national missing women inquiry begins in B.C

Gaddie has a masters of business administration and learned that people still don’t want to work for an indigenous manager.

“It eventually will change,” he said. He went to school in Yorkton, Sask., which didn’t have a large population of indigenous people because they were on reserves and not in the towns. As a result, he was welcomed more, he said.

“I had a white girl friend there … unheard of,” in Yorkton, he said.

Dominique Wells, from near Terrace, was there with her son Edward and dad, Don Wells.

“My back yard is literally the Highway of Tears,” she said of Highway 16. Gaddie showed up because he said he wanted to bring people forward.

The march ended with a healing circle.

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