Full Moon Memory Walk organizer calls for change
Full Moon Memory Walk organizer Sharon Johnson raises the Full Moon Memory Walk flag outside Thunder Bay City Hall to begin the 9th Annual Full Moon Memory Walk on Sept. 20.
A large group of walkers marched through the rain along Simpson Street to the Neebing McIntyre Floodway, where a ceremony was held to honour missing and murdered Aboriginal and Metis women at the site where Sandra Kaye Johnson was found murdered in the winter of 1992.
Full Moon Memory Walk organizer Sharon Johnson has seen some changes since she began the annual walk for missing and murdered Aboriginal and Metis women nine years ago.
“There is a lot more support now from all over the place,” Johnson said during the Simpson Street portion of the annual walk to raise awareness of vanished mothers, daughters, aunts and grandmothers. “Today, in Saskatchewan, there is a lady who is holding a walk to coincide with ours. So that was pretty awesome to find that out.”
Johnson said the Full Moon Memory Walk has also changed over the years.
“We added the sacred fire, that’s something new this year,” Johnson said. “And this is our third year doing the flag raising (at City Hall).”
But Johnson said the abduction and sexual assault of an Aboriginal woman this past winter has increased awareness of how Aboriginal and Metis women are treated in Thunder Bay.
“It is sad that it is not safe to walk the streets,” Johnson said. “You still hear about eggs being thrown at them and all kinds of things like that, being yelled at. It’s still there.”
Even though it rained for much of the day, Johnson and her supporters didn’t postpone the walk — they went ahead with the walk through the rain, singing and drumming along the route through the downtown south core of Thunder Bay from City Hall to the Neebing McIntyre Floodway where Johnson’s 18-year-old sister Sandra Kaye Johnson was found murdered in the winter of 1992.
“It feels really good to be walking in the rain,” Johnson said, noting that she had earlier been worried about whether the walk would go ahead due to reports of lightning and hail. “I’m not worried about it now.”
The walk began with speeches from Johnson, Thunder Bay Aboriginal liaison Ann Magiskan, Thunder Bay Police Service Chief of Police J.P. Levesque and Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs.
“This year I was honoured that Sharon came to us and asked if we could work with her,” Magiskan said. “The rain is going to join us I am imagining as we go through the walk, but rain is healing, rain is cleansing and the Creator gave us the rain for a reason.”
Hobbs said it is important to recognize the loss of Sandra Johnson in 1992.
“That homicide is still unsolved and it is a cold case,” Hobbs said. “Hopefully we all pray that that case will be solved one day and it’s not beyond the realm of possibilities.”
Levesque announced a $200,000 provincial grant for TBPS to start a domestic violence program for Aboriginal women in conjunction with the Thunder Bay Indian Friendship Centre.
Johnson said her sister would have turned 40 years old this month if she hadn’t been murdered in 1992.
“We would have been celebrating her fortieth birthday,” Johnson said.
Email to a Friend
add to del.icio.us