Thirty people came together in the tipi constructed on the University of New Brunswick (UNB) campus behind Marshall d’Avray Hall, to honour the lives of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The ceremony on Oct. 16 was part of the UNB Mi’kmaq-Wolastoqey Centre’s week-long Red Shawl Campaign, which features daily events in memory of the fallen and disappeared.
UNB Elder-in-residence Imelda Perley led the ceremony inside the tipi while winds blustered outside. Perley prayed in Wolastoqiyik and also explained the steps to her ritual and prayers in English. She smudged the attendees with smoke from her ceremonial pipe.
The St. Mary’s women’s drumming group, Pokuhulakon Witsehkehsu (Sisters of the Drum) sang different songs during three separate parts of the ceremony, including the Warrior Woman Song. Beautiful voices of all ages were featured.
After honouring the sacred fire outside the tipi with some tobacco, and struggling to keep their candles lit in the wind, attendees voiced their personal and public thanks around the fire. Perley closed the event by repeating one of the public thanks: “despite the candles going out tonight, our lights still shine bright.”
Other events during the week include a film screening of the APTN series, Taken, on Thursday, Oct. 18th at 7pm in the NBCC Auditorium on the UNB campus and a Healing Walk departing from Fredericton City Hall at 11 am on Friday, Oct. 19th, 2018. Everyone is welcome.
Sophie M. Lavoie is a member of the NB Media Co-op editorial board.