Friday, September 19, 2014
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Bringing awareness to missing and murdered women

Jodi Schellenberg

It may have been a time to celebrate the First Nations culture but many also took the opportunity to bright awareness to a touchy subject.

A Walk For Hope in honour of missing and murdered aboriginal women was held during as part of the activities in Kinsmen Park on National Aboriginal Day on Saturday.

This is the second year the walk, which has also been held in Saskatoon, has been held in Prince Albert.

“It is just to create awareness to aboriginal people and to create awareness within our community that this is an issue,” walk co-ordinator Kurtis McAdam said. “It is a huge issue across Canada. It is just to help with that.”

He said that is something frequently overlooked in the country, which has to be addressed.

Bringing awareness to the issue is important to McAdam, who has lost family members in the past.

“It is an intervention is also because why is it important -- well it is close to home for me,” he said. “I have two aunties who died, who were murdered that way and it is very tragic. It is something you always remember. You don’t forget that, you know?”

McAdam decided to host the walk in Prince Albert after doing research on the Highway for Tears. He wanted to bring a more positive approach to the issue and thought, “Why don’t we have a Highway of Hope?”

When he was doing the run last year from the satellite station to the city, he felt it was a Highway of Hope, which quickly evolved into the Walk For Hope hosted this year.

About 25 people joined McAdam on the walk, some joining in when they saw those participating walking down the street. He was happy people understood the importance of their message.

“Many people were honking their horns and they were driving by and they were waving at us,” McAdam said. “It is really nice to see that in this community, people helping us too.”

Not only were they walking to raise awareness for those who are missing or dead, but also for those who have survived under horrible circumstances.

McAdam said the walk was timely due to the situation with Marlene Bird, an aboriginal woman who was severely beaten and left for dead only weeks ago.

“We thought it is a good way to honour her, to let her know that she is not forgot and something like that is not going to be forgot,” he said. “I hate to say, that is what happens to aboriginal women but many of them we don’t know where they are -- they are out there somewhere and they haven’t come home.”

It also helped honour the memory of the residential school children that never came home, he said.

Once the group arrived back at Kinsmen Park they gathered for a round dance, also in memory of both residential school children and missing and murdered aboriginal women.

“If we remain silent, then it is our consent that it is OK that this is happening to aboriginal women and aboriginal people,” McAdam said. “We have to challenge our belief system. If we don’t then we become lawless people for our belief system. This is why we are doing the round dance.”

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