A space for gathering, reflection and healing for the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls was officially opened in Selkirk, Man., Monday.

“This is all going to be about awareness for our women, and they can learn more about the history and who our women were, and how it’s affected our families,” said Candy Volk.

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Volk was one of nearly 100 people in attendance for the opening of Manidoonsag Imaa Mikinaako-Minisiing, Sacred Spirits of Turtle Island, an amphitheatre behind the Gaynor Family Regional Library. The outdoor installation is shaped like a turtle and has four double-sided murals.

Volk’s ribbon skirt is depicted on one of the murals that were painted by Jeannie White Bird and a handful of artists from Selkirk.

Volk’s daughter was killed in Winnipeg’s William Whyte neighbourhood last year after a pickup truck crashed into her van.

Candy Volk drove from Winnipeg to Selkirk to attend the opening. A painting of her ribbon skirt is on one of the four murals. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

She said White Bird came to her daughter’s memorial and saw the ribbon skirt Volk wore.

“She asked if she could take a picture of it, and she wanted to put it on a mural to represent and honour my daughter,” said Volk.

Volk said the new space was beautiful and “very powerful.”

The opening took place on Oct. 4, the National Day of Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and featured speeches from provincial MLAs, First Nations chiefs and included a jingle dress performance.

Each mural tells a different story. This panel represents the Anishinaabe creation story. (Lenard Monkman/CBC)

The two-year project was led by White Bird, a Selkirk resident, whose mother was killed when White Bird was four.

As someone who has had to travel to Winnipeg for MMIWG events and services, White Bird said she wanted to make sure Selkirk had its own place to gather.

Bobbie Sinclair is one of the contributing artists and lives in Selkirk. She said it makes sense to have projects like this in Selkirk because of the city’s large Indigenous population. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

“We have a lot of people who are affected by the MMIWG, who have families and friends who have gone missing and murdered,” said White Bird.

“I think that it’s important for us to have our own area, for healing, for education and for just community gatherings.”

One of the contributing artists, Bobbie Sinclair, said it’s sad that there has to be public art spaces dedicated to MMIWG, but that she is happy that the space will be used for education.

“It’s time that people start learning and getting back to their culture, and if this is a safe space for that to happen, then I encourage it,” said Sinclair.

WATCH | Space to learn, ‘heal together’ opens in Selkirk:

Space to learn, ‘heal together’ opens in Selkirk

A space for gathering, reflection and healing for the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls was officially opened in Selkirk, Man., Monday. 2:20

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