On Jan. 7, more than 25 people gathered outside of the Vernon Provincial Court where the first hearing for Curtis Sagmoen’s latest assault charge was held.
The group of mostly youth was there to raise awareness for missing local women, including honouring the life of Traci Genereaux, a young woman whose remains were found at the Sagmoen family farm near Enderby, B.C.
Sharing messages of resistance, strength and courage has often been handled by the older women in Indigenous nations, commonly the reason why older women are called, “Aunty.”
Being an Aunty signifies you are a woman who cares for the people.
One of the women warriors and a respected Aunty, who does not want to be named due to safety concerns, shared a message to the youth that showed up to ensure their voices were heard.
“You guys [youth] were called by the [spirits of the missing] women,” she said.
The Aunty, whose life work has always been grounded in raising awareness for the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Girls (MMIWG), shared with IndigiNews what it meant to see youth show up in large numbers to the courthouse.
“I feel happy and relieved, and I know the blood, sweat and tears that has gone into making this [message] elevated, and I believe the [spirit of the missing] women choose the people.”
Other media in attendance asked the group who the ‘organizer’ was, however, folks were reluctant to identify themselves in that way, because in some Indigenous nations there is no hierarchy, it’s many hearts coming together to do the good work.
“This is something that is happening within our very own home, so we need to do everything we can to protect ourselves. We deserve safety when delivering messages for those who cannot,” said one of the Syilx and Secwepemc youth.
IndigiNews followed as Syilx and Secwepemc youth drove from the courthouse to the Sagmoen farm following the hearing. When they arrived, the group laid down medicine, hung a red dress, and together repeated “we will not stop until we have answers, no justice, no peace!”
Once the dresses were hung, the youth sang a women’s warrior song and a strong woman song, both prayer and honour songs that uplift the strength and lives of the women.
Before departing from the Sagmoen farm the youth had one final message to the family, they came together and said: “No more stolen sisters!”
Kelsie Kilawna, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse