On Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020, a number of community organizations will host a vigil and healing drum ceremony at the Alaska Native Heritage Center, 8800 Heritage Center Drive, Anchorage, to honor and remember the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Children.
Charlene Aqpik Apok (Inupiaq) is the gender justice and healing director for Native Movement, one of the host organizations of the event.
"This is definitely an Indigenous-led effort," Apok said. "Many people across Alaska and the Lower 48 and Indigenous communities have been speaking up and standing up against this and raising more awareness and that's definitely happening up here in Alaska. Some statistics ... are sobering and we're ready for change. And so our community is really stepping up and identifying the gaps and where we can affect change."
She says more and more community members are sharing their story.
"We're stronger together. Together, we're able to understand that we aren't sitting there in silos," Apok said. "We're coming together and we're so much stronger to create that change together."
Kelsey Wallace (Yup'ik) is the communications director Native Peoples Action.
"It's really an honor and remembrance of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and this space that we're creating is an opportunity for our community to come together and heal," she said. "While simultaneously raising awareness or continuing to raise awareness for this crisis."
The event is scheduled from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, and will include activities for children, a healing drum ceremony, and a reading of the names of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
"We're really grateful to some of our men allies who have really stepped up and, and told us that they will read the names this year," Wallace said. "That is something that we're really grateful for. We're also going to have in that space of vigil -- it's a really heavy time, actually going through and reading off the names for everybody. We really do believe in creating this support system for everybody moving forward."
Free shuttle rides are available from Tikahtnu for those taking public transportation.