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Winnipeg vigil for families of missing and murdered Indigenous people needs help

No Stone Unturned is seeking donations to support families who have lost a loved one.

Claudette Osborne is shown in this undated handout photo. Seven years ago, Bernadette Smith's sister Claudette Osborne disappeared without a trace. To this day, her four children don't know if their mother is alive or dead - only that she is now among Canada's 1,200 missing and murdered Indigenous women.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO

Claudette Osborne is shown in this undated handout photo. Seven years ago, Bernadette Smith's sister Claudette Osborne disappeared without a trace. To this day, her four children don't know if their mother is alive or dead - only that she is now among Canada's 1,200 missing and murdered Indigenous women.

Bernadette Smith says when her sister went missing nine years ago, she and her family felt alone.

Now she wants to support the families of other missing and murdered Indigenous people.

Smith is one of the organizers of No Stone Unturned, and this Saturday is the ninth annual free concert, feast and vigil to support the families of Manitoba’s missing and murdered Indigenous population, in memory of Smith’s sister Claudette Osborne-Tyo.

Osborne-Tyo went missing on July 25, 2008, two weeks after the birth of her daughter Patience. She was 21-years-old.  

“We didn’t feel like the community was connected to this issue, so that’s why we decided to make it about creating awareness around the issue of missing and murdered persons,” said Smith, who’s also the Point Douglas MLA.

“But it’s also to bring the community together to support the families who are experiencing that in their life, so that they don’t feel alone.”  

The annual event has growing support each year, Smith said, and attendees have moved beyond people who have a missing or murdered loved one. She said they’re seeing more people who aren’t directly affected, but want to know more about how they can get involved in stopping violence.  

While that community is growing, the event’s organizers need support, so they can help others.  

One way to help is by donating silent auction items to raise funds.

“A family last year, their loved one went missing, so we were able to provide $500 in support to help them, because they were out of town,” Smith said.  

Donations may also be used toward helping people search for missing loved ones. Anyone can donate, through PayPal, to no.stone.unturned.mb@gmail.com.

“We come out and provide as much as we can, giving someone some money, or buying some food or bringing some water,” she said.

Cash donations may also be used for associated costs of the upcoming concert, including sound operation and candles, though performers donate their time.

The free event runs from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. on July 29, at Oodena Celebration Circle at The Forks, and will have more than 20 performers and emcees and includes a feast.

“At the end of the night we end off with a candlelight vigil, and that’s where you see a lot of the emotions,” Smith said. “At the end, where you’re honouring your loved ones.”

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