Islanders gather to remembler the lost Aboriginal women

By Ernesto Carranza

Oct. 2, 2015

Judy Clark stood in the middle of a group of about 70 people gathered around for the beginning of her smudging ceremony at the Confederation Landing Park on Oct. 2.

She held her burning sage in one hand and began to cleanse herself and each person in the circle to dismiss the negative energy for what came next.

They began to walk silently in remembrance of all the hundreds of murdered and lost aboriginal women in Canada.

“These vigils and events are important because there are still many undocumented cases of murdered and missing aboriginal women.

And people need to be educated about how devastating these types of tragedies can be, not only to families, but to entire communities,” said Clark.

Clark acted as emcee as she led the spiritual portion of the vigil and a prayer for all aboriginal women, living and dead.

“So many of the women here have been affected by the loss of a sister, mother, an aunt or have been abused in some way. We need to work together as a collective to make things same for everyone.”

Lisa Cooper talked about the need for the P.E.I. provincial government to do more for aboriginal community needing funding for programs that are essential to the healing process.

“The Truth and Conciliation Council has told the federal government there needs to be programs in place to help heal people affected by anything from violence to addiction. The federal has acknowledged the need, yet they cut funding and cut these programs,” said Cooper.

Cooper is acting president and chief of the Native Council of P.E.I. and has advocated for the aboriginal community, against many of the problems they face.

“The provincial government has also acknowledged through their own research that more needs to be done for the native community, and yet they don’t follow their own council and have cut programs.”

These types of cuts affect Islanders in terms of health-care spending and economic growth, said Cooper.

Chief Brian Francis of the Abegweit First Nations was at the event.

“People need to understand aboriginal women are still being reported missing or lost and their families are coming forward only now,” he said.

“This affects all communities and is devastating and these results should never happen so we need to continue the call to action from all Canadians and do something about it. We can’t let this issue die.”