Tears rolled down the cheeks of Deanna Boyd after a Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) awareness walk in Nazko.
Boyd’s sister died six years ago when she was struck by a vehicle which has never been identified.
“Her smile lit up the whole room,” Boyd said.
Boyd was one of dozens of marchers who made the nearly 10-kilometre walk from the Nazko Band Hall to Honolulu Road and back. Marchers donned red t-shirts to in honour of Red Dress day which has become a symbol for Canada’s MMIWG.
Marchers were never inside the hall and distanced themselves as they walked. Masks with a red handprint were handed out to all participants as well.
Dale Terrance performed before the walk and spoke afterward.
“The symbols of the red dress, the symbols of the facepaint, these are symbols of women that have gone missing and symbols of idle no more — symbols of strength, courage.” he said.
Terrance is a Sundancer and is looking to re-open a healing lodge once COVID-19 winds down.
“Before colonialism, the sundance was used to prepare a warrior for battle, or young men coming of age, or moving camp, hunting exhibitions,” he said. “Today, it’s the same approach but we have different challenges today. We have alcoholism, we have drug abuse, we have violence, and there’s a whole bunch of negative impacts we face every day.”
North DistrictRCMP Cst. Chester Williams not only provided a police escort to keep walkers safe on the Nazko Highway but also spoke afterward to the walkers, sharing his family’s trauma.
“My niece went missing in 2017, on Oct. 14,” he said. “We’re still trying to find her, so I understand the highway of tears… Since I came here to Quesnel, I know many men and women have gone missing.”
Williams added he prays everyday searchers will everyday find Sidney Boyd, a Quesnel Indigenous man who went missing in April.
“I was really happy to see all the red walking in front of me,” Williams said. “This is an honourable moment for me, to see this, where we’re in unity.”
The event was organized by Nazko Chief Leah Stump, who recited a historical list of MMIWG from the area.
“It’s good to have events like this to get people together to remember and to keep our culture and traditions alive,” she said after the walk.
Even six years removed from her sister’s death, Boyd hopes for closure.
“We walk in justice for her, so we can bring peace to our family,” she said. “The people who did this (need to) come forward, just so we can let them know our family is still hurting.”
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