Emerson Riel, Karrie Oliver and Chris Swan are part of a group of people who are planning The Candle of Tears Walk & Ceremony “in memory of all who are missing and murdered.”
This regional walk and ceremony is an “opportunity for people to come together, to honour and remember the missing and murdered women, men and children in Canada.” shared Chris Swan, whose own grandmother was found murdered in Manitoba in 1971. “Her murder has never been solved.” he said.
The inception for this 1st time event, came through Emerson Riel, Michipicoten First Nation, when he experienced, a vision while walking in the bush. The vision continued to reveal itself, and over the next several days and weeks, Emerson (and others) crafted a 10 ft. Candle of Tears Monument Staff from a tree he harvested. At the top of the Staff, imagery of a crying candle can be found, with tears that flow and cascade down the Staff. The Candle of Tears Staff is really something to behold. It tells the story of the missing and murdered “and within it, there is a heartbeat.” shared Emerson Riel.”
The vision grew stronger and compelled Emerson to follow a quest, listening to the spirits that guided his hand and heart, giving rise to the staff, walk and ceremony. Through the collaboration between the organizing committee of Karrie Oliver, Chris Swan (Lake Manitoba First Nation), Emerson Riel (Michipicoten First Nation), Craig McKay, Rainbow Agawa (Batchewana First Nation) Courtney Solomon (Garden River First Nation), a Walk and Ceremony continued to take shape, leading up to what promises to be, a meaningful, spiritual, and historical journey.
On Friday, December 18th, Emerson Riel, Karrie Oliver & Chris Swan, met with Constable Todd Showan, East-Algoma OPP (Provincial Liaison Team), and Constable Troy Miller, Sault Ste. Marie Police Services (Community Relations), to forge the Traffic Management Plan for the Sunday, December 20th event. Batchewana Police Service will also have a role in supporting the Candle of Tears Walk and Ceremony. For the organizing committee, the North-East OPP, the City of Sault Ste. Marie Police Services, and Batchewana First Nation Police Services, creating a safe journey has been of paramount importance.
The Trading Post, Hwy 11/17 will be the gathering place at 9:00 am, for the start of the walk, where participants can choose to walk for about 500 metres , in a ‘relay’ of sorts. Vehicles will help to ferry people north as walkers continue to move towards Chippewa River. The gathering place immediately following the walk is the West side of highway 11/17 at the restaurant right across from Chippewa Falls. Once everyone is together, all participants will cross the highway together, leading to the sacred grounds at Chippewa Falls
OPP Constable Todd Showan shared “as good precaution and protocol, all of the people involved wait to cross the highway together. Traffic on both sides of the highway will be held to a stop ‘cruiser to cruiser’. Once we are sure that it is safe to cross, we will give the signal for the walkers and all of the assembled to cross from the West side of Hwy 11/17 N. (at restaurant directly across from Chippewa Falls) over to Chippewa Falls. When everyone is safely over to Chippewa Falls, we can open up the highway again.” The same protocol will happen in reverse, immediately after the completion of the Ceremony and permanent placement of The Candle of Tears Staff. There are speakers and dignitaries expected as well for the walk and ceremony.
Any and all persons are invited to join in the sacred journey to Chippewa Falls. A Christmas Tree with feathers has also been created by Emerson, with feathers representing missing and murdered people. “The purple feathers represent healing. shared Karrie “Men, women and children, as well as two spirited people are represented on the tree.”
Emerson Riels’ hope is for “no other woman or girl to ever go missing or murdered again.” Figures released by the RCMP in 2014 indicated close to 1,200 Indigenous women were murdered or missing between 1980 and 2012, with 1,017 women as homicide victims and 164 women considered missing. The Federal Liberal Government, announced in early December, that a long sought for inquiry into Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women and Girls was finally coming to fruition. Ministers Carolyn Bennett (Indigenous and Northern Affairs), Jody Wilson-Raybould (Justice & Attorney General) and Patty Hajdu (Status of Women) made the announcement in Ottawa, breaking down what is to be a two phase process. http://www.ammsa.com/
Karrie Oliver set up a facebook page at the following link. For more information, ‘Like’ the Page, and follow along with the journey that is Candle of Tears Walk & Ceremony. “All are welcome” shared Karrie.
Emerson Riel can be contacted at 705-943-6337.