Vigil at 1492 Land Back Lane honours missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls

·2 min read

Six Nations members and allies gathered in Caledonia on Sunday joining communities across the country to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

Titled “In Memory of Love,” the teach-in, concert and candlelight vigil at 1492 Land Back Lane featured speakers, performers and family members of missing and murdered Indigenous women.

Beginning in Vancouver in 1991, nationwide gatherings have been held annually on Feb. 14 to raise awareness.

“Women are stewards of the land. When violence is committed against Indigenous women, it undermines our ability to care for our lands,” said a statement from spokesperson Skyler Williams. “Land defence plays a vital role in restoring safety for women, children and our whole community.”

Photos of missing or murdered women were strung from hearts across the room.

A Six Nations woman gave a tearful speech about the murder of her pregnant granddaughter, who was strangled by her partner more than a decade ago.

“Every time I breathe, I think of her not being able to,” Norma Jacobs said in a speech.

Jacobs said the event helped her feel supported.

“When we share our stories ... it brings people closer,” she said in an interview.

Spoken word artist Kahsenniyo Williams performed a piece about loving her daughters amid systemic racism and ongoing struggles faced by Indigenous communities.

Another speaker, Delee Nikal of Wet’suwet’en, said the public should demand the government ensure the safety of Indigenous women and girls.

“Our sisters are not just a number, they’re not just a hashtag ... but they’re not being addressed as such,” said Nikal, who knows multiple family and friends who’ve gone missing or been murdered.

After the speeches, poetry and songs, gatherers placed candles in front of a beat-up school bus and car used as barricades in the ongoing land dispute at 1492 Land Back Lane.

Six Nations members planned to remove the roadblocks on Monday.

Maria Iqbal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator