'Everybody fell in love with her:' Loretta Saunders vigil tied in with ending violence against women
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Over a dozen cities across Canada are hosting vigils in honour of Loretta Saunders this Thursday and calling for an end to violence against women.
Carmen Adams, co-organizer of the Halifax event set for Grand Parade on Argyle Street at 8 p.m., said people are gathering in 17 places she knows of, including Oslo, Norway.
“That’s pretty amazing,” Adams said.
There will be traditional drumming and Delilah Saunders, Loretta’s sister, is expected to say a few words during the vigil and play a song.
Saunders was an Inuk woman from Labrador and Saint Mary’s University student who was found dead off a New Brunswick highway in late February.
Police have charged her roommates Victoria Henneberry and Blake Leggette with first-degree murder, and allege Saunders was killed in their Cowie Hill Road apartment before the couple drove to Ontario where they were arrested.
Saunders was last seen on Feb.13 and was reported her missing a few days later. Family and friends came to Halifax to join in a search for the 26-year-old until her case was ruled a homicide on Feb.26.
Adams said she didn’t know Saunders before she disappeared, but her story impacted her and she helped poster the city with Saunders’ photo.
“Everybody fell in love with her immediately,” Adams said.
She said the fact Saunders was researching murdered and missing Aboriginal women really hit home for her.
The vigil is also a call to end violence against women and Aboriginal women in particular, Adams said. This is “very important” to tie in with Saunders’ memory because that was her goal, “that is what we’re trying to carry on,” she said.
“People are really up in arms, we’re not standing for it anymore,” Adams said. “We don’t know who’s next. It could be anybody.”
Mayor Mike Savage will raise the Labrador flag on Thursday, and Adams said an Inuk elder is also attending to represent Saunders’ culture.
Calgary, Thunder Bay, Moncton, Ottawa and Happy Valley-Goose Bay are some of the cities in Canada holding vigils.