Whistler Sisters in Spirit Vigil
On October 4, Whistler will be one of 60 communities hosting a vigil that draws attention to, and honours, the lives of over 1,400 missing and murdered Indigenous women across Canada. It’s the hopes of First Nations activist and vigil organizer, Linda Epp that Whistler locals will come out to show their support for members of the community who have been affected.
“It’s not a political or a tourist thing, it’s an honour to the women who are missing or have been murdered,” explains organizer Linda Epp. “People in the Squamish and Lil’wat Nations have been affected and this vigil shows them that we understand and we’re here to help. It’s a day where we all stand together.”
Linda Epp is a member of the Sechelt First Nations and a Whistler local. She’s been organizing the vigil in Whistler for the last three years and describes it as a solemn occasion where people can learn about the injustices, but it’s also one that’s filled with healing and hope for the future.
Epp will open the Whistler Sisters in Spirit Vigil at 11am at the Welcome Totem (by Starbucks and Earls). Affected families will then be invited to share their stories before the vigil moves down the Village Stroll to the beat of the Women’s Warriors Song. They will stop at the Olympic Lightning Figure at Olympic Plaza before heading to the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre for a healing and cleansing ceremony.
She encourages people to wear red, a colour associated with indigenous people and with women, and for businesses to display a red dress to signify their support and provoke discussion. Epp mentions that each year more men and youth turn up to the event to show their understanding and support, which is exactly what she hoped would happen. Looking forward to the 2018 vigil, Epp wants to add a fundraising component that will pay into a scholarship for leaders in the community who focus on wellness and advocacy in the belief that education can help move the dial.
For those looking to understand more of what happened Epp suggests reading The Lonely Section of Hell written by Lorimer Shenher who was one of the investigators working with the Vancouver Police Department. Local writer, Cindy Filipenko succinctly notes in her recent article in The Question newspaper that;
“…it’s essential that non-First Nations people committed to reconciliation and fair process speak out about these issues. We can call out people who make racist or misogynist comments about MMIW. We can educate ourselves about this tragedy. We can write our MP, Pam Goldsmith-Jones, at Pam.Goldsmith-Jones@parl.gc.ca and ask for her sustained support to ensure the missing and murdered Indigenous women inquiry meets its goals in a way that considers the needs of victims’ families, friends, and community.”
The Arts Whistler team will be at the Welcome Totem on Oct 4, we hope to see other members of our community there too.
by Guest Blogger: Dee Raffo