The Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre has formally dedicated its new mural honouring Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG).
A ceremony Sept. 1 included a smudge tent for healing purposes; speeches by various dignitaries and family members of local women and girls, as well as, men and boys who have gone missing or been murdered; and dancing.
A major theme that emerged was the idea that there is still a long road ahead toward reconciliation because, by definition, reconciliation means there was a mutually respectful relationship to begin with and that the parties — i.e., Indigenous peoples and Canada — at one point enjoyed an equal relationship, something that has never been the case in Canada.
Other speakers focussed on keeping the memory and legacies of their family members in the public eye and keeping the pressure on authorities to bring justice to bear on those responsible for their abductors and/or killers.
The mural project came to fruition through the MMIWG Commemoration Fund, an initiative of the federal Department of Women and Gender Equity following recommendations of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Idigenous Women and Girls.
The mural itself was the result of a close collaboration between the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls from Smithers, Witset and surrounding communities and professional local artists, the Raven-Tacuara Collective.
The Friendship Centre facilitated the process working through a trauma-informed creative process with facilitators and counsellors to create the final design which now graces the side and back of the centre’s building at the corner of Main Street and Second Avenue in Smithers.