jeff hodson/metro vancouver
Native groups burned sage, sweet grass and cedar in a cleansing ceremony outside the Carnegie Centre on East Hastings Street yesterday that called for action to end violence against women.
The ceremony, known as a smudge, commemorated the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women on the anniversary of the 1989 Montreal Massacre at Ecole Polytechnique that left 14 women dead.
"Today we will begin peace and we will spread it in every direction from these four corners so we can finally create a community," ceremony leader Old Hands told the crowd of more than 100.
"I came here to help heal the downtown core and to reaffirm the sacredness of women, our life-givers."
Robert Bonner, who was invited by organizers to perform a smudge, said it is important to not forget the plight of many women in the Downtown East Side.
"It was an honour for me to be invited here," he said. "So many terrible things are happening to the women down here and we can’t ignore it. Our daughters, sisters and nieces are being viciously and violently ripped out of our lives."