FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Members of the community gathered Thursday afternoon at Treaty 8 Tribal Association to commemorate the National Day of Awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, held each year on May 5th.

Over stew and bannock, residents, along with employees of the Indian Residential School Survivors Society reflected on those they knew who, through no fault of their own, became part of the mass amount of missing and murdered women and girls in Canada.

Connie Greyeyes with the IRSSS said the event was planned with the intent of bringing residents together and having truthful conversations needed to advance reconciliation.

“That’s the way that we carry on with our women that are missing and murdered we gathered together, we share a meal and I thought that today we would take this opportunity to share what the IRSSS has to offer,” Greyeyes said.

Greyeyes, along with co-worker, Alanna Moore, are the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls coordinators at the IRSSS and aim to bring educate others on indigenous culture.

IRSSS offers free workshops for community members and families, including drum, jingle dress and ribbon shirt making.

“I think that that’s really a beautiful way to take that barrier down financially for people that want to partake in something like that,” Greyeyes said.

Greyeyes also spoke of the keynote speech delivered by Jody Wilson-Raybold at the 2022 Northern Central Local Government Association Conference Wednesday night.

“[Raybould] explained that last night about being an in-betweener, there’s another part to that, it’s so important not to be that person that sits on the sidelines,” Greyeyes said.

“The time for silence against racism and against discrimination is over. It’s now time to speak your truth and to stand up for what’s right,” She continued.

She says that The National Day of Awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls is an opportunity for non-indigenous residents to gain some understanding and begin to stand up against the atrocities that occur and have occurred to indigenous women and girls, as well as men in Canada.

A walk to commemorate missing and murdered indigenous women and girls also took place at Kin park and was planned by Mindy Henyu from Surepoint.

View the full interview with Greyeyes below.

Spencer Hall is a news reporter for energeticcity.ca and a recent graduate of the British Columbia Institute of Technology’s Radio Arts & Entertainment program. Growing up in Northwest B.C. made Spencer aware of the importance of local journalism, independent media, and reconciliation. In his spare time, you can find Spencer reading, playing video games, or at the FSJ dog park with his dog, Teddy.