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Photo contributed by Noelle Drimmie

A Walking With Our Sisters memorial ceremony was held at the Northminster Memorial United Church in Flin Flon. The empty chairs represent missing and murdered women. need to be told. This is validating individuals, and this is part of the healing that needs to happen for Aboriginal people, and for our country.” For those who have a personal connection to a missing or murdered woman, the experience of visiting the memorial can be overwhelming. "When I was in Edmonton,” Belcourt recalls, “I met a lady who was attaching an eagle feather to one of the staffs for her sister. I was hugging her, and she was crying, and she told me that [the memorial] really helped her to start to heal in her own way and in her own time. She had been not wanting to move past a certain point in her healing process, and this helped her move past that point, in a way that felt good for her.” Walking With Our Sisters is a remarkable exhibit of artwork, and visitors will no doubt be amazed by the unique, intricate vamps on display. What this exhibit really offers, though, goes far beyond that. It is a chance to participate in a sacred memorial that is helping people across our country come to terms with a tragic loss, and move forward in addressing a painful and difficult issue. Walking with our Sisters will be at the Elks Hall in Flin Flon from June 23-July 5, and the Métis Hall in The Pas from July 12-25. For more information, visit www.walkingwithoursisters.ca

Photo courtesy of Walking With Our Sisters

Following the protocols and principles for the project presents a unique challenge for the hosting communities. Each community forms its own collective of volunteers to manage the project, including local Elders to advise on spiritual matters and keepers, who are responsible for the sacred bundles of vamps. When individuals agree to volunteer with Walking With Our Sisters, they are offered a bundle of tobacco. As Elder Margaret Head-Steppan explained during a volunteer meeting, their acceptance symbolizes their commitment to the task, while also binding the volunteers together as a unit. All of these elements contribute to the sense of community found in each installation of the Walking With Our Sisters exhibit. It is a feeling that, according to Belcourt, truly transforms people. “I believe that taking this gentle, soft and caring approach is making people see [the issue], where reading numbers in the newspaper wouldn’t have the same effect.” Generating awareness for the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women is part of the reason for the exhibit, but the central purpose of the project is to honour the lost women through ceremony, and to help families heal from the trauma of loss. Donna Head, a social worker and a keeper in the Flin Flon collective, explains her thoughts. “Even though it is hard, these stories

1,763 pairs of vamps were submitted to Walking With Our Sisters cottagenorthmagazine.ca • facebook.com/cottagenorthmagazine • @cottagenorth

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Profile for Cottage North

Cottage North July-August 2014  

Cottage North July-August 2014  

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