Names of 117 were read to an emotional crowd in St. John’s during the In Her Name Vigil.
By Victoria Plowman
Below a moonlit sky, people gathered, cried and hugged as they remembered and honoured victims of violence.
The In Her Name Vigil is a collaboration between various non-profit organizations in St. John’s, including the St. John’s Status of Women Council, the Women’s Centre, St. John’s Native Friendship Centre, Newfoundland and Labrador Sexual Assault Crisis and Prevention Centre and Violence Prevention.
Jenny Wright is the executive director of the St. John Status of Women Council.
“If we don’t continue to read the names and honour the lives of these women, they become forgotten,” said Wright.
The event is one she says they spend a lot of time planning for, as it is such a sensitive evening for so many. She referred to it as a “call for action”, saying the time is now to not only see justice, but to also see safety for future women and girls in the province.
“Each year when we read them, more and more families come forward and tell us more about the lives of these women,” Wright said after the vigil on Wednesday night in St. John’s.
“It’s a painful event, but an important one.”
Hundreds gathered and mourned the women named, and by the end of the reading, not a dry eye remained. During a moment of silence, sobs rang out as people comforted family members, friends, and strangers alike.
A vast amount of those present were wearing white t-shirts with purple lettering, butterflies, and bright orange touques – members of Cortney’s Search Angels.
Both family and strangers to Cortney Michelle Lake make up the group, and have spent hours on end searching for the young woman’s body since her disappearance over the summer. They stood in solace, holding pictures of Cortney and remembering the young mother among the dozens of others who faced the same horrible fate.
Lake’s disappearance was declared a homicide by RNC shortly after her she vanished, but no charges have been laid.
Glenda Power is Lake’s aunt.
“For the first time, my niece’s name is on the list of missing and murdered women in this province,” Power said.
The pain in her voice rang louder than her words.
“It is incumbent on us as her family and loved ones to be here and speak her name out loud, and to make sure that she is never forgotten” Power said, her voice breaking.
“She is always on the minds of the people in this province because we need to find her. We need to see justice, and we need to be sure that the women of this province are safe.”