REGINA – While many were celebrating Valentine’s Day, February 14 was also a day to recognize and remember missing and murdered indigenous women. The first annual Saskatchewan MMIW round dance took place Sunday.
“We know that a lot of people are celebrating their loved ones today,” round dance volunteer Nickita Longman said. “This is our way as a community to come together and show our support for people who are missing loved ones.”
The round dance was organized by Lisa BigEagle, who knows better than most the extent of the MMIW issue.
“She just disappeared without a trace.”
BigEagle has not seen her sister for nine years. In February 2009, then 23-year-old Danita BigEagle seemingly vanished into thin air.
“She was my baby sister. I felt like I raised her… Well, I did raise her.”
BigEagle’s family never stopped their search, travelling across the country and following up on submitted tips.
“We’ve been doing everything we can to get it out there that she’s still missing and we’re still looking for her.”
At the Regina Gathering Place, where the round dance was held, Danita BigEagle’s picture sits among many others. BigEagle says indigenous woman live with the threat of disappearance every day.
“We always have to take caution of what we do, where we go and who we go with,” BigEagle said. “We’re always on edge. We’re always in fear. We shouldn’t have to live that way.”
The evening was filled with traditional First Nations food, drumming, dancing and a ceremony. Families of missing or murdered aboriginal women were given an honorary gift.
According to Statistics Canada, aboriginals living in Canada are 6.4 times more likely to be killed than anyone else in the country. Aboriginal women are also 5.6 times more likely to be killed than non-aboriginal women.