At least 163 vigils are scheduled to be held across Canada, plus more outside the borders.

At least 163 vigils are scheduled to be held across Canada, plus more outside the borders.

Worldwide Observances to Mark Annual Sisters in Spirit Vigil for Aboriginal Women

International voices will be raised today along with those of Canadian aboriginals for the annual Sisters in Spirit Vigil to be held collectively across Turtle Island and beyond.

October 4 marks the seventh year for the annual Sisters in Spirit Vigil in Ottawa to honor Canada’s missing and murdered women, according to the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC). At last count at least 163 such vigils were scheduled to take place across Canada on this day to memorialize the hundreds of aboriginal women who have disappeared or been murdered, many of them unsolved cases.

There will be everything ranging from candlelight vigils, both real and virtual, to picnics, rallies and ceremonies. They are taking place in Alberta, British Columbia (the most number after Ottawa, with more than two dozen), Manitoba, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Newfoundland & Labrador, Nova Scotia, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Yukon are all holding observances.

In addition, in keeping with the international attention brought to bear upon the issue in recent years, a number of observances will take place around the world, including the U.S., Bolivia and Mexico.

“October 4th is a day when we honor the lives of missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls and support families who have been tragically touched by the loss of a loved one to violence. Vigils take many forms: a rally, a candlelight vigil, a workshop, a moment of silence, a walk, or a gathering of people to share memories and a meal,” NWAC said in a statement. “NWAC hopes that the Sisters In Spirit Vigil movement will live on for generations, with October 4th being a national day of remembrance for aboriginal women and girls not only in Canada but across the globe.”

New York state’s vigils will be at the Akwesasne Kaianere:kowa Kanonsesneh Long House and Konon:kwe council, the Seneca Nation of Indians at Irving, New York at Cattaraugus Territory, and the Seneca Nation of Indians, Allegany Territory at Allegany Community Center. In Los Angeles Mujeres de Maiz and La Red Xicana Initiate will hold vigils, as will the Women and American Indian Resource Center at American Indian Resource Center at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. In Las Cruces, New Mexico—near where another set of disappearances has been studied, those of Juarez, Mexico—La Red Xicana Indigena and the Women and Gender Studies department of the University of New Mexico Las Cruces will host another, according to NWAC.

In Latin America, Centro de Mujeres Aymaras Candelaria will hold a moment of silence in La Paz, Bolivia. Participants at the 38th Annual Conference on the International Treaty Council being held in Oaxaca, Mexico, observed a moment of silence on October 2.

NWAC’s observance will comprise a number of events and is the largest to date, the women’s group said.

“In 2012, more Ottawa-based organizations that ever have committed to honoring our missing and murdered aboriginal mothers, daughters, sisters, grandmothers and aunties,” the group said. The day will start with a noon rally at Parliament Hill, featuring aboriginal leaders and politicians demanding action, followed by a community feast at 5 p.m., then back to Parliament Hill via a candlelight march for the 6:15 vigil, which will segue into the annual Take Back the Night March, NWAC said.

Click here for a detailed list of vigil locations around the globe.

Read more about Canada’s Missing and Murdered Women, including the series by ICTMN’s award-winning West Coast Editor, Valerie Taliman.

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