The community of La Ronge is honouring Valentine’s Day in a different way this year.
An eye catching display was set up to both honour and create a visual representation of the murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls in Canada.
“We figured it would show more as a display of how many women and children we’ve lost,” Karen Sanderson, from the Piwapan Woman’s Center said.
The display takes on a dual significance because of its location, the old residential school grounds in La Ronge.
“We chose the residential school grounds because of its significance as well,” Sanderson said.
Sanderson set the display up the morning of Valentine’s Day. She said it was made possible with the help of the little Kookums club and friends who wanted to help out.
The display, and the message have a personal touch for Sanderson. One of the 1,181 hearts on display represents a family member.
“I have an aunt who was murdered when she was in Vancouver,” Sanderson said. “We didn’t really talk about it growing up because it was so much pain for my grandfather.”
Sanderson said the cause is personal to her because she’s named after her aunt. The location on the former residential school grounds is also personally significant; her grandfather grew up at the school.
The display was set up for the first time two years ago. It wasn’t set up last year because the staff of the women’s center hosted a vigil for Jodi Roberts, who was murdered in Sucker River according to Sanderson.
“The trial had just commenced and everything was done,” Sanderson said. “We brought the family in and hosted a vigil for her on [February 14] at the grounds.”
With the recent announcement hearings for the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls beginning in the spring of this year, Sanderson said it’s a step in the right direction.
“It’s nice to see, but you get kind of weary on how it’s going to go,” Sanderson said. “It’s a bigger step than anything that’s been taken, so yeah, we have to keep hope.”
On twitter: @BryanEneas
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