For International Women’s Day, Monday, March 8, Trinity Western University (TWU) commemorated the occasion with an outdoor story walk at the Langley campus to remember missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada.
It was the creation of TWU Siya:m and director of the Institute of Indigenous Issues and Perspectives, Patricia Victor.
“Every Indigenous community across Turtle Island (a name for the continent of North America) faces and has family members that are either murdered or missing; and it affects all of us,” Victor said.
“(The story walk) is a remembrance of their lives.”
It is close to home for Victor, who is Stó:lō, from Cheam First Nation.
“It’s a personal journey for me as well, in the sense that I have a dear precious friend that just recently – 49 weeks ago – her daughter, in her early 20s, went missing,” Victor shared.
“[They are] still looking for her and there are no clues to what happened. She was home one day and gone the next, and then never to be found.”
As Trinity Western’s University Siya:m, Victor supports Aboriginal students directly as a coach and mentor, and works closely with faculty to ensure that Aboriginal perspectives are integrated in all disciplines.
Victor hopes that the story walk will help raise awareness among Canadians.
“It seems to be that sense that Indigenous women and girls aren’t valuable; they’re not worth anything,” Victor commented.
“It’s really important that we remember. It’s really important that we take a look at the justice system that doesn’t seem to place priority upon missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.”
During the process of setting up the story walk, Victor began by singing two prayer songs.
She explained the first was “a prayer to honour God. It’s a prayer to remember our ancestors, (and) it’s a prayer for our future generations.”
“The song at the end is a song speaking of the voice of the murdered and missing Indigenous women,” Victor said. “Both of the songs I sang today were written by Stó:lō elders in our community, and we want to give them honour for sharing their gift with us today. They’ve long gone on, and so (the intent is) to carry on their tradition and their heart.”
Following the songs, cedar boughs were placed above the story walk’s trellises, as well as around the garden walk way.
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