By Nicole Siena
Every year on Oct. 4, communities across Canada gather together to honour the lives of missing and murdered Aborginal women and girls.
Hundreds of people attended Tuesday night’s fifth-annual Sisters in Spirit (SIS) vigil in Allen Gardens.
“The event is held to document the names and lives of missing and murdered Aboriginal women,” said Ruth Koleszar-Green, Aborginal academic support advisor for Ryerson Aboriginal student services.
According to the Native Women’s Association of Canada, there are more than 582 missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada.
“If you compared the capita to non-Aboriginal women, it’s the equivalent of 10,000 women,” said Koleszar-Green. “Aboriginal women are seen as disposable.”
“When you realize that number is so much higher for the women in your family, it’s terrifying,” said Kolsezar-Green.
“Talking about violence against women is something people in the community need to do a better job of,” said Rodney Diverlus, VP equity for the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU).
“Education leads to awareness, which leads to action,” he said. “Bringing [the issue] to people to let them know it can happen to them, but also let them know that they can do something.”
Diverlus said we need to support fellow students with these issues.
One in four women will be assaulted in their lifetime. This past week, Walk a Mile in Her Shoes an event held by the White Ribbon Campaign at Ryerson against gender-based violence
But, Koleszar-Green said that this event makes people aware, but “there is still little acknowledgement for Aboriginal women.”
SIS is a time when the community can get together to learn more about the issues that are in their own backyard.
“It’s a time to honour the [reality],” said Diverlus. ”These issues aren’t 20 years old. They’re current.”
“It’s important for all people [to see] that this isn’t just an Aboriginal event, because it impacts all of us,” said Koleszar-Green.
“The more solidarity, the more we can educate and celebrate, and the happier and healthier the community will be.”