In photos: Youth lead rally for missing women as Curtis Sagmoen faces latest court charges

Youth came together to share messages of resistance, strength and courage.
Photo: Young woman holding her drum and sign honouring the life of the late Traci Genereaux whose remains were found at the Sagmoen Farm. Holding up her drum is a sign of honour and strength. Photo by Kelsie Kilawna

On Jan. 7, more than 25 people gathered outside of the Vernon Provincial Court where the first hearing for Curtis Sagmoen’s latest assault charge was held. 

The group of mostly youth was there to raise awareness for missing local women, including honouring the life of Traci Genereaux, a young woman whose remains were found at the Sagmoen family farm near Enderby, B.C. 

Indigenous youth rally along with matriarchs at Vernon Provincial Court.
Youth showed up in large numbers to the Vernon courthouse to use their voices to share the message, ‘we are not going anywhere.’ Photo by Kelsie Kilawna

Sharing messages of resistance, strength and courage has often been handled by the older women in Indigenous nations, commonly the reason why older women are called, “Aunty.” 

Being an Aunty signifies you are a woman who cares for the people. 

One of the women warriors and a respected Aunty, who does not want to be named due to safety concerns, shared a message to the youth that showed up to ensure their voices were heard.

“You guys [youth] were called by the [spirits of the missing] women,” she said.

The Aunty, whose life work has always been grounded in raising awareness for the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Girls (MMIWG), shared with IndigiNews what it meant to see youth show up in large numbers to the courthouse.

“I feel happy and relieved, and I know the blood, sweat and tears that has gone into making this [message] elevated, and I believe the [spirit of the missing] women choose the people.”

Indigenous youth rally along with matriarchs at Vernon Provincial Court.
“Search moon, stars, and around the earth,” a banner made by a Secwepemc matriarch and her family, was then gifted to the grieving families following the rally. Youth from several nations showed up to the courthouse to share their message. Photo by Kelsie Kilawna

Other media in attendance asked the group who the ‘organizer’ was, however, folks were reluctant to identify themselves in that way, because in some Indigenous nations there is no hierarchy, it’s many hearts coming together to do the good work.

“This is something that is happening within our very own home, so we need to do everything we can to protect ourselves. We deserve safety when delivering messages for those who cannot,” said one of the Syilx and Secwepemc youth.

IndigiNews followed as Syilx and Secwepemc youth drove from the courthouse to the Sagmoen farm following the hearing. When they arrived, the group laid down medicine, hung a red dress, and together repeated “we will not stop until we have answers, no justice, no peace!”  

Indigenous youth rally for missing women outside of Sagmoen farm near Enderby, B.C.
The youth led the way to the Sagmoen farm where they parked above the farm to share their message, “He didn’t come today, so we will go to him,” one youth told IndigiNews. Photo by Kelsie Kilawna
Indigenous youth rally for missing women outside of Sagmoen farm near Enderby, B.C.
Youth hangs dress on pole overlooking the Sagmoen farm in honour of the women who have gone missing in the Salmon River Road area. Photo by Kelsie Kilawna

Once the dresses were hung, the youth sang a women’s warrior song and a strong woman song, both prayer and honour songs that uplift the strength and lives of the women. 

Indigenous youth rally for missing women outside of Sagmoen farm near Enderby, B.C.
Youth sing on the edge of the Sagmoen farm property. “It’s so heavy here,” says one of the youth. Photo by Kelsie Kilawna 
Youth continued to sing and honour the MMIWG in the area. Photo by Kelsie Kilawna

Before departing from the Sagmoen farm the youth had one final message to the family, they came together and said: “No more stolen sisters!”

Indigenous youth rally against Curtis Sagmoen and for missing women
Before departing from the Sagmoen Farm the youth left one lasting message to the family, saying, “No more stolen sisters!“ No Photo by Kelsie Kilawna