Trena Soosay, a mother from Samson Cree Nation whose son was killed by gang violence, says she organized a vigil for people lost to violence, addictions, or suicide because there are a lot of people in her community hurting like she is.
“Why I did this event is because a lot of people are grieving right now, a lot of them,” she said. “For me, the biggest part was prayer.
“Prayer and acknowledgment of those we lost and those that are grieving.”
Samson Cree Nation has seen a rise in gang violence in the past year.
With 6,000 members living on reserve, it’s the largest of four communities that make up Maskwacis in Alberta. The others include Ermineskin, Montana and Louis Bull located a little more than an hour south of Edmonton.
So far in 2022, there have been four homicides, multiple gun offences more than 700 assaults in the four communities.
Many blame addictions on violence and incidents where people take their own lives.
This isn’t the only community feeling grief.
Agatha Eaglechief came from Saskatoon to attend and be with people who feel like her.
Her son Austin died in a police chase in 2017.
Eaglechief said that family told her not to walk in Samson Cree Nation alone because it wasn’t safe.
“They told me don’t go around there, you’ll get shot if you are walking around,” she said. “I got scared and then I thought, I have to go beat my fear.
“So I went to go drive Samson, and with all those boarded houses, and what’s going on, it’s like Trena said, we all need prayers. We have to start praying for our people.”
About 20 people attended the vigil. Prayers were given and spirits uplifted.
“We had a moment, Trena and I, we had a conversation to put our sons in the prayers,” said Eaglechief. “I felt the love there because our sons were there in spirit.”
Soosay said she’s hoping the violence stops.
“There’s just no more time to waste,” she said. “We have to help our people. We have to pray for our people now.”