It's time for us to step up and have a voice."
So said Linda Epp who is organizing a Sisters in Spirit Vigil in Whistler to honour the families of the missing and murdered First Nations women across Canada. The vigils will be held from coast to coast on Sunday Oct. 4, spearheaded by the Native Women's Association of Canada.
It's the first time Epp has organized something like this and she hopes it will be the first of many to come in Whistler.
"I thought there was a need to have some kind of a presence here," said Epp. "It's right across Canada but it's important to understand this is in our backyard as well."
Last year the RCMP released its study: "Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women: A National Operational Overview."
At that time, the study found:
• Police-recorded incidents of Aboriginal female homicides and unresolved missing Aboriginal females in the review totalled 1,182 — 164 missing and 1,017 homicide victims;
• There were 225 unsolved cases of either missing or murdered Aboriginal females;
• Aboriginal women are over-represented among Canada's murdered and missing women.
"The report concludes that the total number of murdered and missing Aboriginal females exceeds previous public estimates. This total significantly contributes to the RCMP's understanding of this challenge, but it represents only a first step."
The vigil will begin at 11 a.m. at the Welcome Totem Pole in Village Common, close to The Keg and the movie theatre.
Neighbouring First Nations communities have been invited to come in regalia and with their drums. The group will be singing the Women's Warrior song from the Welcome Totem Pole through the Village Stroll to the Olympic Lightning totem pole at Whistler Olympic Plaza.
"It's very solemn and it's very important that we honour these women, but we also want everybody to understand that we are strong aboriginal women," said Epp, who is from Sechelt First Nation and has been living in Whistler since 1997.
"We are still here. We want to actually create more of a voice. But we also want to teach a little bit of the culture as well."
The Sisters in Spirit vigil will end at 3 p.m. at the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre.
'Little Free Libraries' set to debut in Pemberton
Since being launched last winter, the Pemberton Valley Men's Shed (PVMS) and its members have been keeping busy.
"We've done a few things," said PVMS board member Derek Walton, citing a Canada Day project that helped local kids build birdhouses as one example.
But at the heart of all PVMS activities is the Pemberton Tool Library — a free tool shed open to anyone who signs up for a $30 membership.
The group's latest project — "Little Free Libraries" — is no different.
"A few months ago, the library decided they wanted to try putting these little free libraries out in the community, so the Men's Shed guys have put together these boxes on a pilot program," Walton said.
The PVMS has built four "little libraries" — two for the Village of Pemberton and two for the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District. It will be up to the two governments to place them.
The idea behind the libraries — which will be initially stocked by the Pemberton Library using out-of-circulation books — is simple: take a book, leave a book.
While the four boxes followed a basic design, the trim for each was done in a distinct style by members of the PVMS.
Walton built his as an homage to the Pemberton Downtown Community Barn — he hopes it will eventually be placed somewhere near its architectural inspiration.
- Braden Dupuis
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