Highway Signs in We’koqma’q First Nation Raise Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

WE’KOQMA’Q FIRST NATION, Cape Breton – New highway signs are drawing attention as drivers pass through We’koqma’q First Nation along Highway 105, raising awareness about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. The face on the signs belongs to 16-year-old Aleah Young of Eskasoni First Nation, who won the pageant for Mi’kmaq Summer Games and is an amateur boxer for Red Tribe Boxing. The signs are a collaboration between Young and Barry Bernard, meant to bring attention to the issue.

At Membertou Heritage Park, a smudging ceremony was held for one of the new signs. General manager Jeff Ward expressed that having a local face like Young’s on the signs serves as a powerful reminder of the many women and girls who never returned home. Mi’kmaq educator Jarvis Googoo, a member of We’kok’maq, noted that the signs help to prevent the issue from being forgotten after the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls concluded in 2019.

Organizers plan to eventually have the signs visible throughout Mi’kmaki. Bernard expressed his hopes of placing signs in other communities, and Ward echoed the sentiment, emphasizing that visibility for this issue is crucial. The signs are an important step in keeping the memory and momentum going, as Googoo stated, highlighting the necessity for continued action.

In conclusion, the highway signs in We’koqma’q First Nation, Cape Breton, are a poignant reminder of the ongoing issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, with plans to expand visibility to other communities. This initiative aims to honor the memory of those who have been lost and to keep the conversation and action on this issue alive.