Honouring murdered and missing Indigenous women
Calgary Valentine’s Day memorial march in its 10th year
By Anna Junker, News Editor
While most Calgarians were going out to dinner with their significant other for Valentine’s Day, or staying in for a cozy evening, a group of about 200 people packed together tightly inside the Scarboro United Church for the Valentine’s Day Memorial March in honour of missing and murdered Indigenous Women.
The march, now in its 10th year, is a space for friends and family members, Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike, to remember and honour the Indigenous women and girls who have either gone missing or have been murdered.
Chantel Chagnon, a Cree, Ojibway and Metis woman, led the speeches before the march and said it is comforting to see new and familiar faces each year.
“It gives me hope, it gives all of us hope for our future generations when we see children and elders in the same room, sharing that same intention and the same hopes for our future generations, for a better Canada and for a better way of life,” said Chagnon.
“It is such an important and incredible coming together of hearts, minds and spirits.”
The march also remembered Colten Boushie, a 22-year-old Indigenous man in Saskatchewan who was shot in the head. His murder trial ended with the accused, Gerald Stanley, walking away with an acquittal.
“We have been marching and singing for way too long. Best case scenario is that we don’t have to do this, but as long as we do, we’re marching and we’re showing up,” said Cheryl Chagnon, Chantel’s mother.
The annual Valentine’s Day march originated in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside in 1992, as a way to call attention to missing and murdered women in the district. It has since spread to cities across Canada.
The exact number of Indigenous women and girls who have gone missing or have been murdered in Canada since the 1970s is uncertain. Some estimates range from around 1,000 to nearly 4,000.
However, according to an RCMP report released in 2014, there were nearly 1,200 investigations into missing or murdered Indigenous women across Canada between 1980 and 2012. Of those cases, 200 involved homicides in Alberta, making up 28 per cent of all female homicides in the province.