Baylee Burian and Trysten Ogilvie show their support at the sacred fire. (Rachel Rowbottom photo)

Sacred fire in Shuswap to help illuminate darkness surrounding missing women

Ceremony held near Nicole Bell’s former Malakwa residence to raise awareness of missing Shuswap women

On a cold, overcast Friday afternoon, a sacred fire was lit in an attempt to illuminate the darkness surrounding the disappearance of five women from the region.

The fire was lit on Nov. 2 along Highway 1, near the former Malakwa residence of Nicole Bell, who has been missing since Sept. 2017. The fire was intended to raise awareness of Bell and the other three women who have gone missing from Splatsin territory – Caitlin Potts, Ashley Simpson and Deanna Wertz – as well as bring answers regarding Traci Genereaux, who went missing in May 2017 and whose remains were found on a Silver Creek property in November 2017.

“Today we called for a sacred fire to be lit from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., out of concern that we have for the five missing women in this area,” commented Miranda Dick. “This is the last known whereabouts of one…”

Dick noted a candlelight vigil was to be held at 6 p.m. that evening at the Malakwa Cafe, honouring Bell’s 33rd birthday.

Related: Candlelight vigil honours the memory of Nicole Bell and other missing B.C. women

“Our message is ‘Bring her home.’ We are concerned mothers, fathers, grandfathers, and volunteers. We will never give up until we find them.”

As part of the ceremony surrounding the sacred fire, offerings of fire, tobacco and food were provided.

Red dresses were also on display, symbolizing the missing and murdered indigenous women.


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Miranda Dick stands along Highway 1 near the sacred fire, a ceremony held Friday, Nov. 2, near the former residence of Nicole Bell, to raise awareness of the four women who have gone missing in the Splatsin territory, Bell, Caitlin Potts, Ashley Simpson and Deanna Wertz, and to get answers regarding Traci Genereaux whose remains were found on a Silver Creek property in November 2017. (Rachel Rowbottom photo)

A red dress hangs at an information tent by the sacred fire, along with posters and newspaper clippings related to women who have gone missing from the area – Caitlin Potts, Ashley Simpson, Deanna Wertz and Nicole Bell, and to Traci Genereaux, whose remains were found on a Silver Creek property in November 2017. (Rachel Rowbottom photo)

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