There are tears. People are grieving. They’ve gathered to remember lives killed over the last year.
You feel a pinch in your gut as the names of the 295 slain trans persons killed around the world start to be read aloud.
An elder has just said a prayer to Creator and is smudging as more names are read.
People in the crowd, many of trans identify, clench. Some come up to take a turn reading what seems like a never-ending list.
The moment is powerful and would make great TV but the organizers of tonight’s event are keeping media in a corner and telling them firmly they can’t film anyone unless explicit permission has been granted.
So the journalists in the room are left to shoot a dull podium, albeit still important, but not as colourful and impactful as the rest of the room.
Some in the room are likely thinking to themselves the media are vultures for being here, but they are not.
They are here because they care and want to give those 295 people the spotlight they deserve. It’s a big deal they are here. There’s not a lot of media to go around to events like these nowadays.
Covering this vigil is important. There are many trans people in Winnipeg.
These people are subject to violence and murder – brutality that’s right here at home.
In 2004, Divas B, a trans Winnipeg woman, was given nine blows to the head as part of a deadly beating.
She was stripped naked and wrapped in plastic when her found was found. Divas was 28-years-old.
I sat in the courtroom earlier this year as Divas’ family wept while the man found guilty of killing her made small chat with a guard showing no remorse for the crime.
That is wrong. Divas mattered. Trans lives matter.
That’s the message that needs to be shared, a message that needs to go beyond queer allies to those not in the know or in support of trans folk.
But how do you get the message shared? The answer is through the media. If you can get the media behind you, you can make tremendous strides in your cause.
You create awareness, gut-wrenching awareness, if needed.