Over 100 people gathered inside MacEwan University in downtown Edmonton for the march for murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG). October 4 has also been made the official Sisters in Spirit day in Alberta. The Edmonton march for MMIW is a part of MacEwan Universities sexual violence awareness week.
According to Statistics Canada, despite only making up four per cent of the Canadian population, Indigenous women and girls represent 28 per cent of homicides perpetrated against women in 2019
Isabella Alexis and her cousin Lauren Alexis came out to spread awareness about Angela Alexis, who has been missing since August and was reported missing in early September.
It was Isabella’s first MMIWG march and she carried a laminated poster of her sister.
“I am still looking for my baby sister, she is my best friend,” said Isabella “I thought it would be a good idea to come out to this event. I am really glad I came.”
Her family is still doing regular searches at Alexis Nakota Sioux First Nation, 74 km west of Edmonton.
At the march, Knowledge Keeper Shauel-let-qua Q:olosoet, who is also known as Cynthia Jim opened the event with songs. Jim is also a survivor of the B.C. St. Mary’s Indian Residential school.
“The first song was a woman’s song calling the spirits of all women that have passed to come be with us and walk with us to give us strength and determination,” said Jim.
She also sang a grandmother song from Saddlelake Cree Nation, “I felt that it was important to call the grandmother spirit so they could wrap their shawls around each and every one of us in this vulnerable time,” said Jim.
Jim also had a message to those who have missing and murdered family members.
“We love you, we stand with you. We support you. We honour you and we have so many prayers we are going to continue with you,” she said.
Jim ended the walk with the women’s warrior song. She had walk participants raise their hands in a warrior gesture.
“We are peaceful warriors we are not here to fight. We are not here to show any form of violence but to counter that violence with peaceful warriorship,” said Jim.
When it comes to whether or not she feels like the police are doing enough for MMIWG, “I think they [the police] are still learning. I think a lot of work needs to be done but there are doors starting to open for that communication,” said Jim.
RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki issued a statement of apology in 2018 to the families of murdered and missing Indigenous women at an Institutional hearing which read in part:
“On behalf of myself and my organization, I am truly sorry for the loss of your loved ones and for the pain this has caused you, your families, and your communities. I’m sorry that for too many of you, the RCMP was not the police service you needed it to be during this terrible time in your life.
“It’s very clear to me that the RCMP could have done better. I promise to you, we will do better. You are entitled to nothing less than our best work in your communities.”
At the march, Isabella handed out some flyers and shared digital copies.
Lauren Alexis said she was glad to come to the event as well.
“I have kids in school so I can’t join my family out there every day. I was searching on Facebook and I keep adding and sharing my cousin’s missing poster…I thought maybe we can get out here today and share the poster and say prayers with everyone else,” said Lauren.
After the march they left to go put up more posters. Isabella has been placing them around Edmonton.
“I came back to where I had put some up and they were taken down,” said Isabella. She’s hoping this time they will stay up.
The Alexis family went out with Bear Clan in Edmonton last week to check out rumours that they had heard about Angela Alexis.
The family has been through other tragedies like this before. Another cousin, Misty Alexis has also been missing since 2015.
APTN News has reached out to the RCMP for further updates about Angela Alexis but didn’t hear back before this story was published.