A moving ceremony was held in Hay River on Oct. 10 to recognize and honour missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and two-spirited and LGBTQ+ people.
The Tree of Honour ceremony was presented by the Status of Women Council of the NWT.
“The Status of Women Council of the Northwest Territories is working with community partners to host Tree of Honour ceremonies across the territory,” said Kate Latour, an organizer of the event. “These ceremonies provide us with an opportunity to come together to recognize and honour missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, two-spirited people and LGBTQ+ people. Today’s ceremony also provides us with an opportunity to pay tribute to family and friends who have lost their loved ones and to honour the people in our territory who are grieving now.”
As part of the ceremony, which attracted about 35 people, many tied red ribbons to the Memory Tree near the RCMP detachment.
Information was also shared about relevant support services to aid in healing.
One of several speakers was Justice Minister R.J Simpson, also the MLA for Hay River North.
“Today when you tie a ribbon around the tree you will show honour to the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and members of the LGBTQ2S community, give survivors and their families strength, and bring awareness to the issues of gender violence,” he said.
Simpson noted that it’s imperative that the NWT take the necessary steps to address the root causes of violence, systemic inequality, racism and misogyny, as well as the economic, social and political marginalization that place Indigenous women and girls and members of the LGBTQ2S community at the highest risk.
“We will not be successful if the work is done in isolation,” he said. “Changes need to be made locally, territorially, nationally, and must involve non-governmental organizations, businesses, all levels of government, and each and every one of us.”
Simpson pointed out that the GNWT is working towards creating an action plan that will have concrete steps to help prevent further tragedies and violence.