‘I just wanted to help in some way’: Manitoba woman walks for MMIWG

Larissa Bear walks for murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls

For five hot and windy days, Larissa Bear travelled on foot, leaving her home of Portage la Prairie, heading east down the Trans Canada Highway to bring more awareness to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG).

“I wanted to do this run for all the people that are hurting, who lost someone close to them. I’m just a small vessel in this entire walk,” said Bear, who is from Sandy Bay, Sask., in Treaty 6 Territory.

Each step she takes with purpose, remembering the Indigenous women in her family she lost while she and a family member carry a black flag with the words, “No More Stolen Sisters MMIW”, two eagle feathers decorated on both sides completing the statement.

“I have a lot of friends and family members who lost someone so I just wanted to help in some way and give back. There’s a lot of people who helped out with this walk and I wanted to say thank-you to all of them,” said Bear.

Along the way, motorists would drive by and honk and wave with a smile while reading the flag, others would say the words, ‘Thank you” to Bear. Bear would reply with a warm wave back.

Strangers also stopped Bear’s family on the highway to tell them their stories of tragically and suddenly losing loved ones. Bear said she felt like she was able to give those MMIWG families hope.

“I’m glad I can help in some kind of way. It’s a very powerful feeling.”

She carried a healing stick for strength on her journey. It was gifted to her by an elder when she did a four-day fast for four of her friends she lost while serving in the Canadian military.

“One of the rocks on the stick here is from the fire I kept going for them when I was fasting,” added Bear.

“It was a challenge, it was raining and it was windy and sometimes cold but I just kept thinking of all the Indigenous people who couldn’t escape or get away from what happened to them and I kept going for them.’

Larissa’s uncle, Osemis Isbister-Bear, joined the walk to support her and the cause.

“For myself, I’ve been impacted by MMIWG. Years ago, I had a friend who was missing and later they found that she was murdered. I look forward to a future where there is no more stolen sisters,” said Isbister-Bear.

Bear ended her walk at The Forks in Winnipeg at the MMIWG Memorial with prayer and ceremony.

“I wanted to end it in The Forks in Winnipeg because it used to be the murder capital of Canada.”

While the walk was at times hard for Bear, she felt compelled to do it and finished it on National Indigenous Peoples Day, celebrating the day with hundreds across the city who also took in the festivities.

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