In Ladder to the Moon, Allegra Taylor, speaks these words outlining the expansive view of home:
“Home, as journey’s end, as a spiritual destination, as coming to rest in my own heart. The end of exile.”
And today these words bite into my heart till it bleeds. For today we are having the Bruce Grey Owen Sound’s late edition of Sisters in Spirit Vigil and it is the day I hear the news that 2 more young women are missing – Nicole Hannah Whiteduck and Laura Spence.
These two young mothers (Laura has 4 children, one is three months old, Nicole has ) left to go and “party” … or so we surmise. They had come into some money, and they cashed these cheques, but they left their wallets and cell phones home … and that surprises me because I have daughters and sons of my own who bring their cell phones everywhere. They left home with only the clothes on their back.
Ironically, Bridget Tolley, Laura Spence’s mother, is a founder of Families of Sisters in Spirit.
By all appearances they didn’t plan to disappear. But they have.
It is hard to “go missing” on a reserve; they are true communities; everybody knows everybody. Yet they have truly “gone missing”. They have been missing for five days.
No calls to families. No contact with friends.
And we worry.
We hope against hope.
More than five years ago, Maisy Odjick and Shannon Alexander, went missing from the Kitigan Zibi reserve and neighbouring Maniwak. The same communities that Nicole Hannah Whiteduck and Laura Spence belong to. These women are still missing and unaccounted for.
United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, called for an “the “disturbing phenomenon” of missing and murdered aboriginal women” in Ottawa on Tuesday, October 15, 2013. Yet the federal government seemed not to notice his call for “a comprehensive and nationwide inquiry into the issue could help ensure a co-ordinated response and the opportunity for the loved ones of victims to be heard and would demonstrate a responsiveness to the concerns raised by the families and communities affected by this epidemic…”
Yet here we are – exhausted from the effort of repeatedly finding ourselves in the position of helplessness approaching hopelessness and futility as to how we can prevent this kind of thing happening. Worse still, we often worry alone in our own small communities…alone and feeling unsupported.
So tonight, it warms my heart to be joined by others who empathize with our loss…and not just the loss, but the callous disregard to find answers and … frankly to find these women and/or their abductors … and sadly sometimes their murderers.
We gather tonight to say Gi zah gin to each of these girls and women (and to boys and men) who are far from home. We love you. We will always remember you. We will wait and work until we can bring you home. Until every single one of us is safe everywhere we go… none of us can truly feel safe.
I want to reassure this community that we are cohering into a small group of concerned First Nations people and thankfully some who may not know their connection to our Nations, yet know that we are all connected…we are all Relations. Plans are underway as we meet here for 2014. Next year, we will be gathering again on the real ceremonial day, October 4th to honour these women, to bring them home…and to let all the powers that be know that we will not be silenced, we will not rest until every person in this land takes the “going missing” of a woman, a girl, a boy, a man, a child of this land seriously enough to take action … until that is resolved. And we will continue to do this until there is no longer a need, may it be so, for us to worry, to pray, to hope for the return of our daughters and yes, our sons.
Photo Credit: Jeff Suchak
Until we are all safe until Mother Earth calls us home.