Sydney Morton photo

Kelowna drums up attention for missing and murdered Indigenous women

Kelowna’s Downtown vibrates to the beat of a drum circle

A call for justice for the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women sent vibrations throughout Kelowna’s downtown.

The drumming event that was held Sunday is the first of its kind, initiated by Gary Wong who wanted to host something different in honour of the women whose lives have been stolen. This event now has his phone ringing constantly from other bands across North America to talk about how to host their own version.

“In the U.S. I have them calling me asking to let me know how the event goes so that they can host something similar if we are successful, on the East Coast they challenged me, saying let us know how it goes and we will do it ourselves only better.”

The drum circle that began with the Okanagan Song for the first annual event, followed by the Women’s Warrior Song, beating in memory of the Indigenous hearts stopped and the families that are still healing.

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“The drum is the heartbeat, if we drum and it has that ripple effect it will carry on out there. To me people will notice and pay attention and feel it in your heart it’s in there,” Edna Terbasket, executive director of the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society said.

Westbank First Nation Chief Roxanne Lindley shared her own story of her cousin who has been missing for years and lead the drumming circle. Lindley hopes to collaborate with Kelowna, West Kelowna and the RCMP to come up with strategies to keep the cycle from perpetuating.

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“Today is a really critical day for all of us to come together, not just as Indigenous people but it stems out to a much broader issue. We are missing thousands of women and these women are from across the country and if we don’t address this issue we are minimizing their lives and their role in society,” Lindley said. “We want justice.”

Indigenous women are three times as likely to be the victim of a violent crime than a non-Indigenous woman according to Statistics Canada. During the Canada wide Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Inquiry 1,273 families and survivors have shared their stories, 340 artistic expressions have been received, and 1,859 families and survivors have been registered.

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