March for the missing

More than 200 join annual procession

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More than 200 people marched Sunday afternoon to remember the mothers -- and daughters, sisters, aunts and grandmothers -- who weren't able to celebrate Mother's Day with them.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/05/2012 (3742 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

More than 200 people marched Sunday afternoon to remember the mothers — and daughters, sisters, aunts and grandmothers — who weren’t able to celebrate Mother’s Day with them.

The eighth-annual Sisters in Spirit march in remembrance of murdered and missing aboriginal women wound its way though downtown Winnipeg before ending up at The Forks. Cardboard butterflies featuring pictures of dozens of victims were placed around a stage prior to an hour-long ceremony that featured traditional songs, drum beats, prayers and some emotional speeches from organizers and relatives.

Building awareness of the plight of many aboriginal women is a slow process, according to Rev. Mary Lysecki, one of the march’s co-chairs, but she’s confident progress has been made since 2004.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Someone grabs one of the many signs bearing the names of missing or murdered women.

“Women are still missing, going missing and being murdered,” she said.

“It’s persistence. You just keep on going and things start to happen.”

A number of other marches have spun out of the Sisters in Spirit event, but Lysecki is hoping to branch out into other areas in the near future, such as opening a safe house in Winnipeg in which young women from the north could live.

Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press Hundreds of people take part in the annual Sisters of Spirit march on Sunday. The walk started at the St. Regis Hotel and ended at The Forks.

Men, particularly aboriginal men, need to step up and be good husbands, boyfriends and fathers if the violence is going to come to an end, she said.

Elaine Bishop, executive director of the North Point Douglas Women’s Centre, agreed, saying healing facilities are needed for men so they can stop lashing out.

“They need to be less violent and learn that they can be strong and non-violent. We need women to stop disappearing and we need men as our allies,” she said.

Some people walked, others biked while still more pushed babies in strollers through the downtown streets on Sunday, all behind a police escort.

Vanessa Nepinak carried a sign that read, ‘Come Home Tanya. We love you and miss you,’ in honour of her sister, who has been missing since September.

“We don’t know where she is. She went out one night and never returned home. It’s hard. We’re only 10 months apart,” she said, flanked by her sister’s children, Joseph and Jasmine.

“I think she’s being tortured. I hope she comes home or phones my mom.”

Not everybody in the march had lost someone close to them, but they all knew somebody who had. Glenda James wore one of the butterfly cut-outs as she walked and said she hopes there will be justice for all the victims.

“We need to stop violence against women. We have to support women who are being abused. There are resources out there but some women are are too scared to leave (abusive relationships). They don’t have enough self-esteem,” she said.

The march began at the St. Regis Hotel, a ceremonial starting point outside of which 16-year-old Sunshine Wood was last seen more than eight years ago.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

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