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Names read aloud as 117 missing and murdered N.L. women remembered

With candles arrayed across the steps of the Colonial Building,  Amelia Reimer, cultural support worker with the St John’s Native Friendship Centre, speaks Wednesday during a vigil for 117 missing and murdered Newfoundland and Labrador women and girls.
With candles arrayed across the steps of the Colonial Building, Amelia Reimer, cultural support worker with the St John’s Native Friendship Centre, speaks Wednesday during a vigil for 117 missing and murdered Newfoundland and Labrador women and girls.

Activists gathered on the steps of the Colonial Building in Bannerman Park Wednesday night to read out the names, details and dates of 117 missing and murdered Newfoundland and Labrador women.

The sombre ceremony lasted about an hour under dark skies threatening rain, as men and women intoned the names, with candles arrayed across the steps of Colonial Building. 
A crowd of about 250 people stood silently, listening. 
The vigil was preceded by a healing circle for family members of the murdered and missing women.
Jenny Wright, executive director of the St. John’s Status of Women Council, said organizers want to do more than simply mourn.
“It is important to remember, because if we don’t do it as a community, then who’s going to do it? But when we’re done mourning, and we’re done honouring, that’s when we say there’s got to be change,” Wright said.
“It’s not enough just to mourn domestic violence and the loss of so many people without demanding some kind of radical change in how we’re addressing domestic violence.”
Organizers are calling on the provincial government to adopt a province-wide plan to address domestic violence, and call a provincial inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Wednesday evening’s vigil was tied to other vigils held across the country for missing and murdered Indigenous women. In this province, though, advocates read out the name and biographical details of all women who are missing or murdered from this province.
Amelia Reimer, cultural support worker with the St. John’s Native Friendship Centre, said part of the challenge in this province comes from the fact that Indigenous recognition is often a fairly recent thing, so when it comes to historical cases, it’s difficult to establish whether a woman was Indigenous.
“Smallwood told Ottawa in 1949 that there were no Indigenous people here in the province and, unfortunately a lot of people in the province still buy into that falsehood,” Reimer said.

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