Healing gathering for families of missing and murdered people returns

Matt Gardner
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An annual gathering to promote healing for the families of missing and murdered individuals returns to Muskoday First Nation this week.

Prince Albert Daily Herald

Now in its third year, the “Healing the Families of Murdered and Missing Peoples Gathering” is hosted by the All Nations Healing Moon Committee and will take place over four days starting this Saturday and running through Tuesday at the Veterans Memorial Park.

The gathering offers a range of activities steeped in First Nations tradition, such as craft-making, that aim to promote the healing process.

“The first year that we held the gathering, we had all the family members come together and we asked the family what it is that you need for your healing,” committee president Angie Bear said.

“So all the directives that we have, everything that we put on, comes from the family members themselves and saying, ‘This is what I need to help me with my healing.’”

Formerly a family violence worker with the Prince Albert Grand Council who also helped organize the Helping Our Brothers and Sisters Memorial Walk, Bear is well-versed in the experiences of those with missing or murdered family members.

When it comes to missing family members, one might begin by thinking their loved ones simply forgot to call.

The longer the person’s absence goes on, however, the more the search and concern for the missing person will begin to dominate the lives of family members.

“It stops you from living your everyday normal life and it’s really hard to just have these aspirations of going to school and doing these things, because you’re kind of stuck in that place looking for your loved one and not knowing if you should be giving up and wanting to move forward,” Bear said.

What we’re hoping to offer people is a connection to their traditional aspect to give them that strength. Angie Bear

“Sometimes people get caught up into really negative things like addictions to cope with some of that pain when they don’t know how to deal with it.”

She added, “What we’re hoping to offer people is a connection to their traditional aspect to give them that strength so that if their loved one, even though they may be missing, that they have that spiritual strength to get on with life and to live their life -- and that they don’t forget about their loved one and they continue to look for them, but to help them move past it, and the same for if somebody’s been murdered.”

Each day of the gathering begins with a breakfast and pipe ceremony. Speakers during the mornings include prominent First Nations leaders and representatives of social support agencies.

Afternoons feature diverse workshops such as craft-making and smoke fish demonstrations. Following a traditional feast, evening activities include healing circles, drumming and storytelling.

Anyone wishing to register for the healing gathering may contact Bear at 306-922-2701 for more information.

Organizations: First Nations, All Nations Healing Moon Committee, Prince Albert Grand Council

Geographic location: Veterans Memorial Park

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