By Angela Espinoza, News Editor
The Douglas Students’ Union (DSU) is once again hosting the annual Sisters in Sprit event on October 1, held in honour of the over 1,200 aboriginal women and girls missing and murdered in Canada. Similar Sisters in Spirit events are held throughout the country each year to remember the lost and remind others that such crimes continue to take place.
In previous years, Sonia Keshane, former aboriginal liaison for the DSU, “worked closely with the DSU and college relations and membership outreach coordinator Tracy Ho in planning and promoting the event.”
Keshane, speaking together with members from the DSU Aboriginal Students’ Collective, elaborates on this year’s Sisters in Spirit.
“This year’s event differs from previous years in that we wanted someone who had ties to the Sisters in Spirit, who had some firsthand knowledge of why the Sisters in Spirit came about. Ernie Crey has personal ties to the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women, and the Douglas Students’ Union and the DSU Aboriginal Students’ Collective wanted to bring him in and get him to share with us his personal story and journey.
“Dawn Crey, Ernie’s sister, was one of the main subjects of the 2006 documentary Finding Dawn; she was one of 60 women who disappeared from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside over a 20-year period … and her remains were found at the Pickton Farm. Ernie also played a key role with an oral testimony in the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry that ended in 2013.”
Crey, with numerous titles and accolades to his name, has been an active and passionate voice in the aboriginal community, helping to bring attention to some of the issues that continue to plague indigenous peoples throughout Canada.
“This year we also feature the ‘Faceless Dolls Project.’ It was something that we started last year and we are displaying [the student-made dolls again] this year.”
Aboriginal services provided on campus
Keshane and other members of the DSU Aboriginal Students’ Collective have previously been involved with the Douglas College Aboriginal Student Services Centre, which acts as a safe space for all students on campus. The location and quiet setting offers a place for students to study and relax. Current aboriginal student coordinator Dave Seaweed was regarded by the group as, “A great resource for aboriginal and non-aboriginal students.”
The Aboriginal Students’ Collective is also a recent group on campus, which provides resources and a safe space for all students.
“We are a fairly new group with returning students who wanted to actively engage faculty and students by bringing awareness to the college by events such as Sisters in Spirit. The collective encourages social, cultural, and academic dialogue relevant to the students at Douglas College and to the neighbouring community.
“As a collective we will also partner up with the DSU and provide services and organize community events. The collective also recognizes the necessity for aboriginal peoples to maintain traditional teachings and cultural practices and works to promote community involvement and growth through cultural events.”
The Aboriginal Students’ Collective is actively seeking membership and working to raise awareness of their group and its involved events. “We partnered with the DSU and Aboriginal Students’ Centre to bring forth Sisters in Spirit and also to let the student body know that there is a new collective that will be involved in promoting [events and activities] within the college.
“Come out and [experience] Ernie Crey speak about his personal journey, ask questions, and get involved on what you can do to assist in the Missing Women’s Inquiry and the [recent] roundtable discussions.”
Sisters in Spirit will be taking place in the Aboriginal Gathering Place (room 4650) at the Douglas College New Westminster campus, and will run from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. The event will include a smudging ceremony and a reception with light refreshments.