Vigil inspires vice-chief to speak out on missing and murdered Indigenous women

Each person who attended the Sisters in Spirit Vigil placed a candle on the table to form a cross. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

Jayda Noyes, Daily Herald

“We need to be colour blind.”

Tealight candles lit the dimmed gym at the Indian Metis Friendship Centre Thursday morning to recognize Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG).

Prince Albert’s Sisters in Spirit Vigil was one of many across Canada occurring annually on Oct. 4.

It led the vice-chief of the Prince Albert Grand Council to express his thoughts on why he feels this is an issue.

After many engaged in smudging, everyone formed a circle to share their stories and thoughts.

Chris Jobb said a few words that seemed to stick with all who attended: “We need to be colour blind.”

After the vigil, he explained further what this means to him.

“It doesn’t matter what culture you come from. Before you judge people, walk in their shoes, walk in their moccasins for a while. You’ll know, you’ll understand the concept of their life,” he said.

Jobb noted the state of Indigenous people is a ripple effect stemming from residential schools, addiction and mental illness, for example, and that the social flaws in society led to the missing and murdered epidemic.

“There’s overcrowded housing in our communities, some houses, like two bedroom houses have 10 people in it, three bedroom houses have 17 people in it, if not 23,” he described.

Jobb went further saying the houses are also in poor condition being infested with mould.

“That’s why a lot of these people move to the city and when they move to the city…they wander around and then the one sad thing is as a person, once you lose hope, you don’t care. You don’t care where you end up, you trust anybody, you’re vulnerable. When you’re in a vulnerable state, anybody will take advantage of you.”

He was raised on a reserve before moving to the city at 14-years-old.

He explained how he’s been exposed to alcoholism, neglect and abuse, but decided to take matters into his own hands.

“At age 8-years-old, I knew I was never gonna touch alcohol,” said Jobb. “Alcohol is one of the major factors of our people that destroyed (us).”

He emphasized the need for society to know everyone is the same.

“I’m not going to focus on certain nationalities. In general, we need to be educated,” he said.

The Saskatchewan Chiefs of Police’s website says there’s currently 130 missing persons in Saskatchewan to date—58 are of Aboriginal descent.

A total of 36 missing persons are female, and half of those 36 are Aboriginal.

However, RCMP said while explaining these numbers that human remains have been found and not identified.