Moving ceremonies were held by the Okanagan and Splatsin bands Tuesday to remember the aboriginal women who have been murdered or have gone missing across Canada.
The statistics are staggering — at least 1,200 women and girls have been taken from their families.
“These women were daughters, mothers and aunts,” said Coola Louis, an Okanagan Indian Band councillor during the Sisters in Spirit vigil Tuesday.
“These women had places in our hearts. They were beautiful women capable of doing beautiful things.”
And that’s what the broader country needs to remember.
These were women, just like everyone in our society, who had potential. They could have become professionals, tradespeople or active volunteers in their community.
But more importantly, they could have played an active role in the lives of their children, spouses, parents and other family members. They could have been role models had they been given the chance.
A federal inquiry into murdered and missing aboriginal women is underway, and while that is an important step towards reconciliation, it is only a start.
All of us as Canadians, native and non-native, need to ensure the safety of everyone, female and male, and that their lives are considered valuable.