600 people joined a walk and smudge in Fort St. James to show support for families of victims of violence and call for change in communities.

600 people joined a walk and smudge in Fort St. James to show support for families of victims of violence and call for change in communities.

Walk and smudge aims to purge local violence

Kwah Hall was filled with people and a somber air on Saturday, February 25.

  • Mar. 7, 2012 3:00 p.m.

Jonas Gagnon – Caledonia Courier

Kwah Hall was filled with people and a somber air on Saturday, February 25.

“We were overwhelmed by the turnout,” said Eileen Bjornson, Fribjon Bjornson’s mother.

People from all over the province, as far south as Vancouver according to Bjornson, crowded the hall, leaving people to stand at the back.

“Turnout was higher then expected,” said Reuban Blackwater, Nak’azdli band manager.

At the hall there was a short speech by Fribjon’s parents, a slideshow in memory of Fribjon and a speech by the family of Perry Sebastian, who is currently missing.

About 600 people attended, according to Bjornson. The line of people on the walk nearly stretched from the Kwah Hall to the march’s destination. As the line of people turned the corner at the historic site the tail end of the march was still moving across the highway from Kwah Hall, causing a small backup on the highway.

“We had to block traffic temporarily,” said Blackwater.

The walk ended at the Lower Rd. house where Fribjon Bjornson’s body was found. There Fribjon’s family ‘washed’ themselves in the smoke of a small smudge, which was followed by a cleansing of the house with the same smudge, a Carrier tradition meant to help Fribjon’s spirit leave the house. During the ceremony Nak’azdli drummers played and sang.

But it was more than just British Columbians affected by Bjornson’s desire to speak out against violence. In an age of digital communication the desire to speak out against violence made it’s way across Canada in the form of small, more personal protests.

“I had many people contact me on Facebook that they were lighting candles as far away as Toronto,” said Bjornson.

The walk was organized by Bjornson as a way of giving voice to the community to combat the fear and lethargy in the community.

“That’s what bothers me the most, the code of silence that everyone keeps,” said Bjornson.

Bjornson has become frustrated by the quietness of her son’s case, and the dead ends she’s seen stall other cases like it. The dead air surrounding these events frightens her.

“This feels dangerous, this lack of doing anything,” said Bjornson.

So she’s putting out the call to all member’s of the community.

“It’s up to each and every one of us to make sure (this country) is safe,” said Bjornson.

With this explosion of people making their voices heard Bjornson is looking to the future, and an awakening in communities.

“I hope something good comes from it,” said Bjornson.