SAGKEENG FIRST NATION, Man. — A sombre candlelight vigil has been held in honour of a 19-year-old woman slain on a small Manitoba First Nation.
Two girls, aged 16 and 17, are charged with second-degree murder in the death of Serena McKay of Powerview, Man., on the weekend at the Sagkeeng First Nation, 120 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.
Light snow gentled drifted down Thursday evening as dozens gathered at the reserve’s pow-wow grounds.
Earlier in the day, a group of women walked through the community smudging it with sacred medicine to cleanse it of negative feelings.
Organizer Alma Kakikepinace told CTV Winnipeg that other vigils are being held across the country, including in Winnipeg and Montreal.
She said many people don’t know how to deal with the brutality of the death of the young woman, who was to graduate this year from the local high school.
“We need to stand together on this,” said Kakikepinace. “We need to stop the hating. Yes, part of grieving is anger, part of grieving is sadness, but there are many other ways to heal from that. We’re offering one way, if people would like it.”
Brenda Bell, of Pine Falls, Man., was one of those in attendance at the vigil. She called it a “beautiful ceremony” with a lot of tears.
“You can just feel the hurt and pain within everyone, especially the families,” she said in a posting on the vigil’s Facebook page. “What a beautiful idea, ladies, to hold a vigil. It lifted so much of the hurt and pain in my heart and it felt so good to give her families some support.”
Social media has played a large role in the incident and its afermath.
On Thursday, Facebook said it has removed a graphic video showing a vicious attack on a young woman believed to be McKay.
A spokesperson said Facebook was also working with law enforcement, after the RCMP said it was aware of the video and was reviewing it to determine if it’s relevant to their investigation.
Meanwhile, the names and photographs of the accused have also begun to circulate on social media, even though their identities are legally protected under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.