Vigil for aboriginal women mixes tears and hope
Friends and families gathered across 40 Canadian communities, including Ottawa, on Saturday for the Sisters in Spirit vigil, remembering aboriginal women who have disappeared or been murdered.
The day hit home for the Kitigan Zibi First Nations community near Maniwaki, where two teenaged girls disappeared last month and their families continue a search for answers.
Alex Neve, the secretary-general of Amnesty International Canada, called the trend a human rights tragedy.
"Indigenous women are attacked, go missing or are killed and receive inadequate protection from governments and police forces across this country because they are women and because they are indigenous," Neve told a crowd on Parliament Hill.
Tony Martin, whose daughter was murdered, said: "To lose my daughter and have nobody care makes me so furious. It's just unbelievable that the police care so little."
Many in Ottawa were calling on Canada's politicians to make this issue a priority, saying violence against aboriginal women is just as important as the economy and the environment.
"Here we are talking about over 500 missing or murdered First Nations women, aboriginal women. And so very little is said about this," said Chief Phil Fontaine of the Assembly of First Nations. "This is about Canada and we need to do something about this."
Maisy Odkick, 16, and Shannon Alexander, 17, disappeared on Sept. 5 from Kitigan Zibi, leaving their wallets and clothes behind.
"I just want my daughter home or to hear her voice again," said Laurie Odjick.
Family and police don't believe the girls ran away, but are no closer to finding them and continue their appeal to the public for information.
With a report from CTV Ottawa's Nicole d'Entremont