A symbol of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people will now grace Whitehorse’s riverfront.
On Sept. 17, dozens of people gathered at the riverfront for a public ceremony for the Finding Peace Monument, a commemoration project for the victims and families of MMIWG2S+ in the Yukon and northern B.C.
“Today we gather to support one another. It is a day duly recognized, a painful truth in our community,” said emcee Christine Genier.
“(This monument is) to let Indigenous women know that we are seen, that we are missed.”
The monument depicts an Indigenous woman beating a drum. It will serve as place for families and the public to reflect on MMIWG2S+ and pay their respects to the murdered and missing.
The project was a two-year process led by the Whitehorse Aboriginal Women’s Circle in collaboration with Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society, Yukon Aboriginal Women’s Council, Teslin Tlingit Council and Kwanlin Dün First Nation.
MMIWG2S+ family members also contributed ideas to the design.
There were several speeches at the ceremony, including one from Kwanlin Dün Chief Doris Bill.
Bill spoke of how oftentimes monuments depict white settler men. She said she was “heartened to see this changing, to no longer stay out of sight and out of mind.”
She also proposed a call of action to politicians and government officials in the crowd to support more reconciliation efforts.
“I want you to support initiatives like this. I want to see statues like this across Canada, not just the Yukon. I think it’s time,” she said.
The artist behind the monument, Halain De Repentigny, was also asked to make an impromptu speech.
He emphasized how the statue would not be possible without the families and community involvement.
“I’d say I didn’t make the statue, we made the statue, and I hope that when people look at it that it touches their heart and gives them peace,” he said.