A path of red dresses adorn the path where a crowd gathers around a fire to honour the missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, two spirit and gender diverse people across Canada. A sacred fire ceremony was held in Bluffers Park today hosted by the 2-Spirited People of the 1st Nation, an Indigenous led organization.
Pam Lapointe is the culture coordinator for 2-Spirits and fire keeper for the ceremony. This is their second year holding the ceremony as fire keeper. Lapointe says it is good that a day was picked to honour the missing and murdered as “it gives us a solid date to work with a lot of our missing we don’t have a solid date.”
“[A] sacred fire opens a portal to our spirit world and it brings that connection with our ancestors and it can provide that healing, grounding and that sense of closure that people don’t get when you have missing and murdered relatives,” says Lapointe.
Lapointe has experience with relatives who have gone missing or been murdered. They have a hard time with grief and the lack of “solid answers” pertaining to their loved ones.
“I have sisters who have had babies gone missing out of their cribs, I’ve had brothers who were shot, I’ve had cousins gone missing. That’s not to mention friends and community members who I’ve worked with,” says Lapointe.
While affecting the family, the losses of missing or murdered individuals also affect the community; Kelly Pollitt, a volunteer at today’s fire ceremony, has seen on the outside how it affects a family to have a member missing or murdered.
“It’s really hard for them, that’s why they need more awareness,” says Pollitt. “Police need to investigate and not give up. It seems like it’s not important to them but they’re humans, they’re important to everybody.”
A 2022 year in review report form Aboriginal Alert found that across Canada there were 931 missing alerts for Indigenous people. Of the total alerts, 141 are still missing and 44 have been reported as dead.
Listen to the interview below with Kelly Morning Bull, an attendee at the cermony: