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Remembering Loretta Saunders

    Monday, March 3, 2014 - 16:27
    Family and friends of Loretta hold signs at Grand Parad ©Jeff Harper/Metro Halifax
    Family and friends of Loretta hold signs at Grand Parad ©Jeff Harper/Metro Halifax
    By, Kim Irving Cahill, Maritimes Regional Activism Coordinator

    Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Loretta Saunders, a young Inuk women who went missing in Halifax on February 13th and whose body was found in New Brunswick on February 26th. Loretta was from Labrador, attending Saint Mary’s University in Halifax and working on her honors thesis on the subject of missing and murdered aboriginal women.

    I had the privilege of meeting several of Loretta’s family members and friends. In the days following the tragic news of her death, her family gracefully reached out to the community in gratitude and to ensure that the issue close to Loretta’s heart isn’t forgotten.  Efforts have now turned to carrying on the light of Loretta’s legacy by raising awareness, working to prevent violence against Indigenous women and by drawing attention to the higher risks they face.

    Upon their arrival in Halifax, family, friends and volunteers mobilized quickly at the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre to aid in search efforts and to spread the word of Loretta’s disappearance. Posters were shared and hung here and across Canada. There were numerous contributions by generous community members and organizations, who offered a headquarters in Uniacke Square for family and volunteers and donations of time, materials, printing and meals.

    Because of the selfless strength of Loretta’s family, her life and work will be known by many. This tragic event brought together a new, tightly-knit community of people from all walks of life who are dedicated to raising awareness of the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women. There are ongoing discussions about carrying forward Loretta’s work and plans for a nation-wide vigil to honour her and all the “Stolen Sisters”. There will be a vigil held in Ottawa on Parliament Hill Wednesday, March 5th at noon. The life of this beautiful young woman and her dedication to raising awareness will carry on in the hearts and minds of many.

    For more information about Amnesty International Canada’s “Stolen Sisters” campaign, please go to amnesty.ca/stolensisters.