Strength in unity, as well as the message that we all have a role in preventing violence, was at the forefront Friday night at the first Sisters in Spirit Vigil in Williams Lake hosted by the Violence is Preventable Committee.
The evening started with a gathering in front of the Purple House on Oliver Street with the signing of rocks in part of the ‘Love is Campaign’, before a walk and candlelight vigil in honor of the missing and murdered aboriginal girls and women.
Story sharing, food, music, and also a minute of silence, was then followed at the Elders Circle of Care at the Eagles Nest.
Aboriginal wellness coordinator for the aboriginal child and youth wellness program at Cariboo Friendship Society, Cora Fraleigh says although more than 1,000 missing and murdered indigenous women and girls across Canada have been acknowledged there are many, many more.
“Some families are not able or not in a healthy enough spot to be able to share their stories. So we really want to encourage people in our community to come together to stand in unity and to say that this is not ok; we don’t want this to happen to our future generations.”
Fraleigh adds that violence just doesn’t happen against women, but men and boys as well.
“In my personal life, where I came from we had two young men go missing off of Highway 97 North, it’s still undetermined what has happened to them…in gang violence, there is still power over the males in our family.”
Fraleigh says they want to encourage males to stand up in solidarity and make a commitment that they are going to end violence in their relationships and they are going to respect their elders, women, and children, wanting a healthier next generation.
She says they are hoping for more participants next year and challenges the community with the goal of getting 100 people together next year to stand up against violence.
“It’s not acceptable. It’s not the way we respect our women and our children and families, and it starts with each and everyone one of us,” she said.
“All it can be like our musicians said is we can step in when we see something happening, we can ask if somebody is ok, we can make sure that we’re there and we’re not leaving them alone until we know that they’re ok, we can share safe places with them.”