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At Women's March, Hope and Heartache as National Inquiry Begins

Justice minister joins misty Vancouver ceremony honouring missing and murdered.

By Mychaylo Prystupa, 15 Feb 2016, TheTyee.ca

After a quarter-century of marching, Sunday marked the first Downtown Eastside memorial following Canada's commitment to a national inquiry.

Canada's commitment to a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women brought hope and heartache to the country's largest and longest-running march to honour the dead and disappeared.

The Tyee sought reflections from families, advocates and political leaders at the 26th annual Downtown Eastside Women's Memorial March. Watch the video above for those scenes from yesterday's ceremony.

"I am hopeful," Tsleil-Waututh leader Carleen Thomas told a crowd outside Vancouver's Carnegie Community Centre. "With this Liberal government, we have the first Aboriginal woman attorney general. We have to send up all our positive energy to her.... She is fighting a centuries-old system."

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Elders at the front of the annual Downtown Eastside Women's Memorial March in Vancouver on Sunday. Photo by Mychaylo Prystupa.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould acknowledged decades of advocacy that put missing women in the national spotlight.

"All of the women and advocates that are standing around in this circle have been working hard over many years," Wilson-Raybould told The Tyee. "It's because of all their efforts not only in Vancouver but across this country that we have a national inquiry."

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Canada's Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson attend Sunday's ceremony. Photo by Mychaylo Prystupa.

As the federal government begins cross-country meetings with families and stakeholders, one organizer questioned why some Vancouver voices have not yet been heard.

"The majority of the people here haven't been included," Musqueam activist Audrey Siegl said. "I don't really see a lot of inclusion of Downtown Eastside people."

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Musqueam activist Audrey Siegl calls for wider inclusion in national inquiry process. Photo by Mychaylo Prystupa.

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Gone but not forgotten: Sut-lut Antone remembers murdered daughter Cassandra. Photo by Mychaylo Prystupa.

Watch the above video for more reflections by families and Indigenous elders.  [Tyee]

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