Gone but not forgotten: 4th annual gathering for MMIW held in Hagersville

NEW CREDIT – The 4th Annual Never to Be Forgotten Memorial for Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Girls and Women was held on Friday, February 13th. The event was organized by Valarie King, Pat Jamieson, and students from an Indigenous studies course concerning women and community of Laurier University Professor Kim Anderson.

Approximately 50 people gathered at the Main and King intersection in Hagersville for the vigil for about half hour carrying signs to create awareness and education in the evening. After the vigil, the participants went to the New Credit Community for a ceremony to put their prayers and medicine into a sacred fire to pray for the families before going into the community hall for some hot soup and refreshments.

This event was particular significant as the murder trial for the late Elaine LaForme will be starting on February 17, 2015 at the Cayuga Courthouse. The trial is expected to last up to 8 weeks.

As the participants came within the community hall, local artist Lacey Hill sang songs to honour the families while they ate and settled in the circle. Some of the seats within the circle had the signs that the people had carried at the vigil. A banner reading “Honouring our Sisters in Spirit” was displayed by five local women from Six Nations and New Credit who were being honoured.

Two families spoke at the event. Chasity Martin spoke of her aunt Paula Martin and the LaForme family spoke of Elaine and the upcoming trial. A jingle dress healing dance was done for the families. After this everyone was able to share and give comforting and encouraging words.

Every February 14th, across the country, thousands gather to show respect for the women and girls and their families. The number of vigils have been increasing as this marks the 25th year since the movement started in Vancouver in 1991.

The Laurier University students worked with the organizers the same as last year as part of their class to learn social justice ways from Aboriginal women organizers. The Laurier students took a lead role within their school by creating a fundraising group, research group, media group, and an outreach group.

The research group brought together the statistics and vital information around this issue. The media group took care of getting the information out to the other students on campus. The outreach group organized venues within local high schools to speak to the students about this critical issue.

The fundraising group raised $292.00 for the family of the late Elaine LaForme to help cover trial expenses. The donation was presented to the family at the community hall.

The evening of the event, chocolate strawberries, muffins, and cookies were available and a total of $282.00 were raised. After the event, Chasity Martin and her father matched the funds from the Paula Martin fund and gave the family $600.00.

There will be an upcoming Spiritual Health fundraising event for the LaForme family as the trial continues that will be held March 21st and March 22nd at the New Credit community Hall with seers, readers, and herbal, reiki, shiatsui, and other healers.

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