Women’s Commission leading monument project for the missing and murdered

Participants in the PAGC Women's Commission's annual Honouring our Sisters and Brothers Memorial Walk head towards the courthouse last June. (Herald file photo)

Sisters in Spirit Monument and Sacred Site to be located along the river

Friends and family of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) will soon have a permanent sacred space in Prince Albert to honour their loved ones.

As Chair Shirley Henderson explained, the Prince Albert Grand Council Women’s Commission aims to promote and protect the rights of Indigenous women and girls.

That’s why they’ve collaborated with the City of Prince Albert and the Indian and Métis Friendship Centre to build a monument not only to help honour and celebrate the lives of loved ones, but also to spread awareness of a “forgotten issue” in Saskatchewan.

“We’re hoping to bring that back,” said Henderson.

“A lot of the families feel that they have no support and kind of feel neglected.”

The Sisters in Spirit Monument and Sacred Site project will contain the names of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls throughout the province, including LGBTQ victims.

Henderson said the commission hasn’t compiled a list yet and don’t have an estimated number of names.

The project will also contain benches and potentially a teepee in the warmer months. It is expected to be completed sometime this summer.

Although the commission hasn’t decided on a specific location, said Henderson, the monument will likely be located along the North Saskatchewan River towards the provincial courthouse.

Once the snow clears out, members plan on scouting the area.

Henderson said it will add to the experience of the annual Honouring our Sisters and Brothers Memorial Walk. The commission had its 15th annual walk last year.

“That’ll be a place where we can kind of bring everyone together to smudge and say their prayers,” she said.

“We get people for our walk from all over Saskatchewan—down in Fort Qu’Appelle and Regina, Saskatoon, as far north as Wollaston and Fond du Lac. They come from all over the place.”

Henderson said the commission knew they needed to take action on the issue after an Amnesty International report was released about 20 years ago.

“We thought ‘We have to do something, we have to react to this.’ We started off with our walk. We were going to do the walk for ten years and put an end to it, but families come forward and said ‘Keep on. It brings us together.”

In 2014, Indigenous women had an overall rate of violent victimization that was double that of Indigenous men and nearly triple of non-Indigenous women. That’s according to data released in 2019 from the Government of Canada’s Department of Justice.

The Women’s Commission is seeking input from affected families and elders, who are encouraged to contact Project Coordinator Shauna Bighetty at (639) 533-0252 or shauna.bighetty@hotmail.com.