Missing and murdered Indigenous women are being remembered across Canada – including in Fort McMurray.
Over 50 people came out to McMurray Métis on Thursday, braving the cold weather, for the Sisters in Spirit vigil to remember, honour, and support the families of these victims.
Stories were shared, messages of support were given, and overall it was a night where missing local women were on peoples mind.
One of those who spoke was Lorraine Albert. She tells Mix News this is an issue that needs to be discussed every day, not just one.
“For too long, it’s been swept under the carpet and I feel that in this area, I think people have to realize what’s going on with our women, why are our women going missing, why are they not being found.”
The vigil was also an information hub for the impacted families.
Co-organizer Melissa Herman says as much as this day is meant to remember, it was important to think of those who are struggling to cope with their loved ones being missing or dead.
“Very often those families feel as if they’re alone and maybe they’re not aware of the many resources that are out there.”
Some of the supports which were discussed include Waypoints and the Family Information Liaison Unit – who tries to find information while consoling the families.
Right now, there are six women from Wood Buffalo who are currently missing – Janice Desjarlais, Amber Tuccaro, Shirley Waquan, Shelley Tanis Dene, Elaine Alook, and Betty Anne Deltess.
Martin Crummy, who was at the vigil, has been advocating and trying to lead a search party for Desjarlais – believing her body is in the regional landfill.
“She was last seen getting into a dumpster outside of the Centre of Hope, footage showed her boyfriend coming out but her not coming out. I’ve asked a lot of questions and all I’ve gotten is roadblocks.”
He adds all these women deserve better efforts to find them and bring closure to their families.
Meanwhile, members of the Wood Buffalo RCMP were also in attendance – showing their support for these women.
Sergeant Elizabeth McDonald also took a couple of minutes to speak – stating they’ll continue to do what they can to find these women and also reminding those to always come forward if they believe someone is missing, no matter how long they’ve been gone.