Esquao, the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women and Awo Taan Healing Lodge (Awo Taan), have been actively involved in the work of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and Two-Spirited+ (MMIWG2S+) for several years prior to the National Inquiry. As a provincial organization, based in Edmonton, they host gatherings, deliver suites of programs and services, and strive for policy change. The crisis of MMIWG2S+ still demands action.
Together, Esquao and Awo Taan, on March 20/21st, 2023, facilitated a gathering of family members, survivors, and stakeholders for a collaborative and healing conference to advance justice for MMIWG2S+. Attendees came from as far north as Paddle Prairie Metis Settlement; as far east as Winnipeg, Manitoba; As far south as Tsuu T’Ina First Nation; and as far east as Hinton. Esquao and Awo Taan were able to host over 150 family members and stakeholders to attend and hear about the work done after the National Action Plan Engagement. It is fantastic to know that there are so many people are committed to justice for MMIWG within Alberta. The foundation of this gathering was action. Speakers shared with attendees, and with each other, what actions they have made to respond to the 113 Pathways to Justice for MMIWG2S+ as prescribed by Alberta’s Joint Working Group.
“Great presentations of people who have lost loved ones. These presentations created dialogue during breaks and in smaller groups, this created understanding and allowed for grieving.”
“Listening to stories of others’ experiences/journey through the loss of a loved one whether by murder or still missing helped with feeling connected; when someone is able to share their story it is healing. You have a voice, feel validated, (emotionally), and have a chance to share your loved one’s legacy. You have access to a close and supporting collective community of individuals who had to live through immense loss.”
“Hearing from those speakers who have been impacted by the loss of MMIWG2S+ was very meaningful for me & helped me feel connected to them. Speaking with attendees who have had to endure the suffering associated with this loss was also both meaningful & transformational leading to a further feeling of connectedness.”
“It was excellent, full of knowledge –I am full of gratitude to have been gifted the opportunity to attend –so much love and passion in one room –Conversations were deep it was comforting to hear the agenda included activities that brought laughter –there was access to Wellness healing in a private room. There were activities for children, youth. This event was very well thought out and tried to meet everyone’s needs-to also have the Elders speak-provide prayer-smudging.”