The growing concern about missing and murdered aboriginal women is something that registers personally with Alex Augier.
Augier had a friend who disappeared from his life 20 years ago.
“That sparked my interest of the need to do something, to bring awareness about this issue. My friend Bowie was missing for 10 years and she was found dead three kilometres outside of Edmonton, ” Augier said.
Augier said he used to attend the vigil held in Vancouver but when he couldn’t make it to the coast four years ago, decided a similar vigil could be held here.
“The first time we did it, we had about 14 to 15 people turn out, ” said Augier, a Metis Cree native from northern Saskatchewan who is studying at UBC Okanagan to become a lawyer, wanting to specialize in First Nations land claim rights.
“Last year we had about 90 to 100 people turn out on the steps of the Kelowna courthouse.”
Augier said this year’s event will be held Saturday, Feb. 14, starting at noon.
The hour-long event will include singing and drumming along with a smudging ceremony by First Nations elders. “The smudging ceremony is done by an elder and is designed to purify yourself from all negative thoughts,” he said.
Augier will speak at the event while the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Centre men’s group will sing a traditional song of remembrance.
He said the concept behind the vigil held in Kelowna and others across Canada is to give a voice to those missing and murdered aboriginal women, an issue that various human rights and First Nations groups are pressuring Prime Minister Stephen Harper to address.
Resolutions being called for include a national board of inquiry to look into why the missing women have not been found, or adding more police resources to solve the murder and missing women investigations. Harper has so far declined to pursue either of those options.
“There are 860 women across Canada still missing,” he said. “We would like to see more resources such as forensic science experts to help solve some of these cases.”
For more information about the vigil in Kelowna, Alex Augier can be contacted at 778-753-0422.