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Calgarians rally, march for Sisters in Spirit

In honour of murdered and missing Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people across Canada, the Sisters in Spirit Vigil took place along Stephen Avenue and Olympic Plaza on Tuesday.

It was the 19th such vigil held in Calgary, bringing together Awo Taan Healing Lodge elders, board and staff; families of murdered and missing women, girls and two-spirit people; police services; advocates; community leaders; and anyone else who wanted to take part.

"I think its important that we mourn together and not alone," said Samatha Robinson, a volunteer and member of the Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth.

Attendees gathered at Third Street and Eighth Avenue S.W. and, following opening prayer, drumming and singing, the group marched the avenue to Olympic Plaza.

There, families of murdered and missing women, girls and two-spirit people addressed the crowd.

"It gives us more strength to be in the community. Being all together makes us feel more powerful – just here to gather and support the women that did go missing," said Amare Spotted Bull, also with the Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth.

Organizers say the event is also about calling for justice for their loved ones, and calling for more action toward truth and reconciliation.

"There's just so many people who are suffering, who are hurting, who don't feel supported by the political system, by the justice system – and we've seen a lot of injustice happen," said Chantal Chagnon, co-chair of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and Two-Spirit committee.

"We file police reports and nothing gets done. So today is important to say we need something done about this," said Robinson.

Tuesday's vigil was one of more than 300 expected to take place across Canada and internationally, as part of Sisters in Spirit Day.

The aim of the events, according to a release issued on Sunday, is to "bring awareness for increased safety, justice, recognition of our human rights and to support the public call for the announced national inquiry."

"Our goal and wish is to initiate open dialogue with our governments, to take action and reduce the alarming rates of violence against Indigenous women," the release said.

"According to the public record, there are nearly 4,000 missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people in Canada. We are over-represented and at a greater risk than the national average of homicide and violence." 

"It's a very, very emotional day. It is a day we set aside as individuals to remember who they were to remember even their favourite songs, how they laughed, and how they're so missed," said Josie Nepinak, executive director of the Awo Taan Healing Lodge Society. 

"I have an aunt who was murdered in 1977, and we've never received any answers or have justice for her death. So I continue to honour her on this day to remember her spirit and that she was taken away from us far too soon." Top Stories

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