Some of the several dozen supporters who filled the Old Massett Community Hall for the Oct. 4 vigil gather to sing and enjoy a beach fire outside the Old Massett Youth Centre. (Archie Stocker Sr./Haida Gwaii Observer)

Some of the several dozen supporters who filled the Old Massett Community Hall for the Oct. 4 vigil gather to sing and enjoy a beach fire outside the Old Massett Youth Centre. (Archie Stocker Sr./Haida Gwaii Observer)

Old Massett hosts first Sisters in Spirit vigil

The circle of supporters at Old Massett’s first Sisters in Spirt vigil grew so large that organizers had to start a second ring.

Started in 2006 by the Native Women’s Association of Canada, the Oct. 4 vigils are held to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirited people, as well as to call for social change.

Over the last dozen years, the vigils have grown from 11 to well over 200 communities across Canada.

“Violence has affected so many people. As an aboriginal woman, it’s affected my life,” said Monica Brown, director of the Haida Health Centre, which organized the candlelit supper and beach-fire gathering.

Living in Vancouver, Brown said she met several women who have since gone missing, or who were murdered in unsolved cases that are now part of a national inquiry.

Reflecting on that time, and something she heard at university — that aboriginal women remain at the bottom of Canada’s socio-economic ladder — Brown said she was inspired to push for change, against the social ills that are a legacy of colonization.

“It made sure my life became about healing,” she said.

“We need to start looking at our strengths, and building up our children, building up our women.”

“We have the ability, we have the knowledge, we have the hope.”

GaawOld Massett

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At the first Sisters in Spirit vigil held in Old Massett, supporters wrote their thoughts for women in the community, especially those who have experienced violence or been close to another who has. (Andrew Hudson/Haida Gwaii Observer)

At the first Sisters in Spirit vigil held in Old Massett, supporters wrote their thoughts for women in the community, especially those who have experienced violence or been close to another who has. (Andrew Hudson/Haida Gwaii Observer)

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