Hundreds of people filled the streets of Victoria and marched to the B.C. Legislature in honour of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and Two-Spirit people.
Sunday was the 13th annual Stolen Sisters Memorial March after a two-year hiatus.
Marchers began at Our Place Society before walking to the front lawn of the Legislature on Belleville Street, where speakers included the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations and local Indigenous Peoples who shared their stories of loved ones who were taken.
Chief RoseAnne Archibald also highlighted the recent efforts by Indigenous Leaders in Manitoba to search for the remains of two murdered Indigenous women.
“It took a lot of effort by families and leadership in Manitoba to get them to search those landfills,” said Archibald.
The Chief adds it highlights the struggles of Indigenous families seeking justice.
“I think that’s what we’re up against as First Nation women and as Indigenous women. People not understanding that we are valuable, that we’re worthy, that we deserve to be treated with dignity and respect always,” added Archibald.
Local cases of violence against Indigenous women were brought back into the spotlight. Victoria police are once again pleading for public information on 42-year-old Belinda Cameron of Esquimalt, who went missing in 2005. She was a mother of two, and police believe she was a victim of foul play.
“Belinda’s daughters are now adults and are seeking to understand their mother’s disappearance,” said VicPD in an email.
Judy Elk, whose daughter was one of two victims in a recent homicide in Saanich, spoke with tears as she thanked the community for their support.
“At times like this, it just hits me. It just hits me, and it hurts my heart. So I have to recuperate again, and I’m thankful for all the people that are supporting me around here,” said Elk.
Her daughter Stephanie Carmen Jade Elk (who goes by jade) was murdered last October. Her boyfriend, Christopher Cathcart, has been charged in her murder.
Chief Archibald continues her calls for all levels of government to enact the MMWIG Action Plan to pool resources to protect Indigenous women.
“In that action plan, there are tangible things that every government can do to create safety for Indigenous women,” said Archibald.
One suggestion is to include an alert system whenever an Indigenous person goes missing. Washington State implemented a similar system in July 2022.