Sisters in Spirit Walk brings awareness, healing

Three women take time to reflect during the ceremony. Left-right are Avis Giroux, Driftpile Cree Nation’s Indian residential school coordinator, Councillor Caroline Isadore and event organizer Nancy Chalifoux.

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

It was a time for healing, awareness and reconciliation.

Sister in Spirit Walks were held at Driftpile and High Prairie Oct. 4, with nearly 100 attending in Driftpile and 70 in High Prairie.

Highlighting the ceremony was a special red dress, said to have special healing powers. It began the day in Slave Lake and was passed along to the walks at Driftpile and High Prairie.

“This dress collects our pain,” said Caroline Isadore at Drifptile.

She explained the history of the dress, and how it came to a man in a dream. He dreamt of a red dress with blood dripping down which signified missing and/or murdered Indigenous women. After his dream, a special dress was designed for him to take the message out to the people.

“This incredible monument that the dress [represents],” said Isadore. “The trauma of members, our loved ones, those who tragically left our lives.

“To the people of our Nation, let’s let go of the stigma, the judgment of one another.”

Native role model Stan Isadore thanked everyone for attending and their support. He referred to all the signs present, as people expressed their feelings.

“That’s what it’s all about. It’s about healing and awareness.”

Councillor Derrick Laboucan added words of encouragement. He said the attendance was very “heart-warming” to him.

“Our people have been misled,” he said. “Thank you all for sharing your compassion and love.”

Caroline Isadore agreed.

“The power we have in our community for the support for the missing and murdered Indigenous women.”

Dean Syrniak, of Lakeshore Police Service, and staff, attended to speak and keep everyone safe on the highway during the walk.

“It’s unfortunate history has built a foundation,” he said, adding trust and accountability has built walls.

He added the MMIW movement is “knocking down those walls”.

“Our team at the office, we’re striving to overcome the barriers and build relationships in the community.”

Chalifoux replied she was grateful to Lakeshore Police Service for keeping them safe and helping to build a better Relationship.

Red rocks that were smudged were also presented to all in attendance in memory of the loved ones taken.

In High Prairie, Belinda Willier spoke and emphasized that the walk was held to honour everyone, regardless of sex and ethnic background.

“There are just as many men missing as women. We have to advocate for them.

“Remember the families who are grieving.

“Remember the children who are grieving.”

Willier was also pleased the walks continue to grow.

“It brings the message out more. We have to let the world know it’s happening. We have to put a stop to it.”

Brad Cunningham, speaking on behalf of the High Prairie Native Friendship Centre, who organized the local walk, said the event was about bringing awareness.

“…and support grieving families and offer support and healing.

“It’s important to remember our missing and murdered Indigenous women.”

Lunch was provided to participants at the High Prairie walk afterwards.

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