Honouring Aboriginal victims

 

By JOSH PEDERSON

Aboriginal women are three times more likely to live in impoverished conditions, three times more likely to have inadequate housing and are three times more likely to be victims of violence.

These staggering facts are ones that must not be tolerated.

The government has done little to remedy the problem and unless action is taken by Canadians, the cry for help will continue to echo down the corridor of forgottenness, unheard and ignored.

Many advocators and members of the public gathered at Marianne’s Park in Guelph on Oct. 4 to pay tribute and honour the victims of missing and murdered Aboriginal women during the Sisters in Spirit vigil.

The beautiful and touching service was organized by the Guelph-Wellington Women in Crisis (GWWC) organization, which is a not-for-profit feminist group that provides services and information to women and their children on abuse and sexual violence.

Services this organization provides are crucial, and in some cases life-saving to those who are affected by the tragedies of sexual violence and abuse against women.

Services include:
* Marianne’s Shelter which provides a safe house for women who are victims of violence.

* Family Court support group that women seeking legal advice or counsel can visit as they go through the court process.

* And a 24-hour crisis hotline which can be reached at 1-800-265-7233. Women can have a one-on-one conversation with a representative who deals with emotional trauma.

A video was presented that outlined the problems currently plaguing Aboriginal communities across Canada. The Aboriginal Peoples Television Network series, Taken, follows the lives of different Aboriginal families and tells their stories of lost or murdered friends and family. The video was an impactful story of a mother in turmoil, grieving the loss of her missing, presumed dead, daughter.

The distress and worry these communities are facing is incomprehensible and the video an eye-opener, giving many insights into the troubles these women face during their quest to bring those responsible to justice while faced with extreme grief and despair.

Following the video, Rilea Godin, 13, courageously went to the stage to deliver a heartfelt message about how she has been impacted by tragedy following the murder of her stepbrother’s mother, Denise Bordeaux.

“Denise was the mother of my stepbrother Sean. After her death, Sean began drinking and doing drugs.”

 

“He was no longer the fun-loving brother who spent time with me … hopefully we can get justice, so no other children lose their mothers.”

The captivating and inspiring message received overwhelming applause for Godin’s strength to give insight on such a tragic event.

Like many others, the message needs to be heard so something is done and, as Godin said, no other children lose their mothers.

To raise awareness, the GWWC accepted donations of red dresses to symbolize missing or murdered Aboriginal women. Jaime Black, a Manitoban Metis native, created the Red Dress Project and these dresses can be seen hanging in communities across Canada. For the event 22 red dresses were donated by members of the public.

At 7 p.m. a candlelight vigil was held at Marianne’s Park where the crowd gathered in a circle and with their candles lit, held a moment of silence to honour those lost. A harmonious song was played afterwards which featured traditional native-Canadian drums.

Patty Bryant, a volunteer for the GWWC, said this was the largest turnout for the event in its five years of running with over 200 people in attendance. She added that a bigger venue would be needed next year. Bryant said they hold three events annually. “There is the Take Back the Night, Sisters in Spirit and the Walk for Freedom.” She encourages everyone to come and show support for the cause.

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