Highway Signs in We’koqma’q First Nation Honor Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

WE’KOQMA’Q FIRST NATION, Cape Breton – In a powerful move to raise awareness of the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, new highway signs have been installed in We’koqma’q First Nation along Highway 105. The placards feature the face of 16-year-old Aleah Young of Eskasoni First Nation, serving as a reminder of the women and girls who never made it home.

The signs were co-created by Barry Bernard, who emphasized the importance of the message they convey. Along with being the queen of the Mi’kmaq Summer Games, Aleah Young is also an amateur boxer for Red Tribe Boxing, making her a fitting representation for the signs. This initiative aims to prevent the issue from being forgotten, especially after the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls concluded in 2019.

To mark the installation of the next sign, a smudging ceremony was held at the Membertou Heritage Park, where Aleah Young’s face will also be displayed. Jeff Ward, the general manager of the Heritage Park, highlighted the significance of having a local face like Young’s on the signs, as it serves as a powerful reminder of the women and girls still missing.

Jarvis Googoo, a Mi’kmaq educator from We’kok’maq, expressed the importance of keeping the memory and momentum alive, stressing the need for continued action beyond inquiries and studies. Organizers have plans to extend the visibility of the signs throughout Mi’kmaki, with hopes of placing them in other communities.

The initiative aims to keep the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls at the forefront, ensuring that the memory and momentum remains alive. The organizers aim to eventually have the signs visible throughout Mi’kmaki, with plans to expand the initiative to other communities.