About 150 people gathered Friday at Simms Park in Courtenay for the sixth annual Comox Valley Women’s Memorial March, which honours the lives of missing and murdered women.
Several people delivered heartfelt speeches at the Simms gazebo, after which the gathering marched through the park and crossed the Fifth Street Bridge to Cliffe Avenue.
Avis O’Brien of Alert Bay spoke on behalf of her great aunt, Selina Wallace, who was last seen in Cape Mudge in 1971. Selina’s life was honoured at the first Women’s Memorial March in the Comox Valley.
“I just wanted to acknowledge her, and all of the women who have gone missing or been murdered,” O’Brien said. “Just to speak a bit about the roots of this — the gender colonial violence that our women experience, the systemic racism that results in the poverty that our women experience.”
O’Brien was accompanied onstage by her young daughter.
“When I was pregnant with her, and I was thinking about bringing an Indigenous woman into the world — what does that mean for her? Is she going to be safe? That’s why we’re here today to be part of the change that we want to see in the systems of government and police, and for the way that our women are treated.”
K’omoks First Nation Elder Donna Mitchell said First Nations are 12 times more likely to be murdered, or to go missing, than any other women in Canada.
“As a daughter of a murdered woman whose case is still open after 18 years, with no hope of being solved, it is hard to sit here and listen to stories,” said Violet Williams, who emceed the event. “I am thankful for everyone who has come out today. It shows that there is support in our community for our Indigenous women.”