Monument to MMIW unveiled at Saskatoon Police headquarters
- EFN Staff | May 08, 2017
A monument to missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls was unveiled in an emotional ceremony held outside the Saskatoon Police Service Headquarters building.
Created by artist Lionel Peyachew, the life-sized bronze sculpture depicts a woman named Wicanhpi Duta Win or Red Star Woman, a fancy dancer with her shawl as her wings. The sculpture was chosen in 2015 following a vote on several different submissions. The project is funded by the STC, the Province of Saskatchewan and the SPS.
The monument was unveiled in a public ceremony that drew around 300 people on a hot and sunny day. Prayers were put down by the Elders and then an honour song, the Métis anthem by Krystle Pederson, and O Canada in Cree and English by the students from Confederation Park Community School opened the event the dignitaries from many levels of government spoke on the importance of embracing our women and stopping the problems that have led to so many women and girls losing their lives.
“The Saskatoon Tribal Council has been working with the Saskatoon Police Service, the City of Saskatoon and the Province since 2015 to acknowledge the tremendous importance of focusing on our murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls,” said Tribal Chief Felix Thomas. “This monument exemplifies the serious impact even one Indigenous murdered or missing woman or girl has on our community, not just our First Nations, but everyone the city, the province the country this is a problem that affects us all.”
In collaboration with the Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC), the City of Saskatoon, the Province of Saskatchewan and the Saskatoon Police Service (SPS), the statue honouring missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls was created. The statue will have a permanent home in the plaza area in front of the building, near the main entrance. Benches will soon be installed around the monument.
“The Saskatoon Police Service is honoured to be the home for the monument to missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls,” said Police Chief Clive Weighill. “It is our hope that the monument represents not only a place of reflection and peace, but also represents the strong partnerships our Service has with the Saskatoon Tribal Council, the families of victims of violence, the province of Saskatchewan and the City of Saskatoon.”
Carol Wolfe also addressed the event with the help of her translator. “The families now have a starting point for walks and vigils and also a place to reflect,” said Wolfe. She knows the pain as she lost her daughter Karina several years ago. “We can come here and find peace and hope or just a place of calm from the grief we all carry. This monument carries their spirit and they will never be forgotten. They are loved.”
The vision for the statue came to Peyachew as he was researching the issue in news papers. He came across a story in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix that stuck with him. “I was looking at old newspapers and I found an article that was very inspiring. They were interviewing a family and the mother was describing her daughter and the way she used to dance as a fancy dancer,” said Peyachew. “She described her as very light on her feet like she was flying like an angel on top of a cloud. I got to work and I started drawing and this is what I came up with. I would like to share some words with the families and mothers. Never give up. It is a long way to get to what we want but I know things will get better. But don’t ever give up.”