For the past four years, at the beginning of October, Stephanie English has walked 200 kilometres from the Piikani Nation to Calgary.
She walks to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, men and two-spirit people — a group that includes her daughter, Joey.
“This year, just like every year and the years to come, it’s walking for justice,” English said as she made her way north, up Highway 2 on Sunday.
In 2016, Joey English, died of a drug overdose. Rather than call 911 when he found English dead, the man she had been doing drugs with stored her body under his bed before dismembering her. He was sentenced to just 18 months in jail plus a three-year period of probation with substance abuse treatment.
Joey’s younger sister, Alison English, died in 2015 in what RCMP said was a suicide.
“I had to do whatever it took as a mother, not once, but twice, to find closure,” English said. “I’m still working hard to move forward in the most positive, compassionate, and unconditional loving way I understand.”
It’s estimated there are more than 1,200 missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls across Canada.
This year, other family members of the missing and murdered joined English.
Her cousin, Jamie Medicine Crane, started the trek in Red Deer.
“By this we’re giving voice, we’re giving action, and we want to see more action from the government, from the authorities,” Medicine Crane said.
This year is the last journey English says she’ll dedicate to her daughter. She’ll keep walking though, for others with missing or murdered loved ones.
“I’m doing something for our people because I’ve been through that,” she said. “We have more names in our list and the names keep going.”
English and the others making the journey will meet at the 18th annual Sisters in Spirit vigil on Stephen Avenue on Monday at 11:30 a.m. The vigil will include drumming, a traditional ceremony and speeches.
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