Brenda Wilson is comforted by her colleagues and supporters as she recounts the story of her sister, Ramona, who was murdered in 1994 in Smithers, during the MMIW gathering and information session hosted by the MMIW Drone Search Team and Splatsin First Nation at the Splatsin Centre in Enderby. From left, Freda Ens, Brenda Wilson, Terri Chhina and Katherine Thwaites. (Morning Star file photo)

Valentine’s Day fundraiser for MMIW drone search team

Doors will open at 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 14. at the Splatsin Community Centre in Enderby.

The MMIW drone search team will be hosting a Valentine’s Day dinner and dance on Feb. 14. at the Splatsin Community Centre in Enderby.

Advance tickets are on sale now for $12.50 a person and $25 per couple and can be purchased by contacting organizers Stacy Starchuk Hayes or Jody Leon. Tickets at the door will cost $15 per person and $30.00 per couple. Kids tickets are by donation.

“People can come to the event, have dinner with their sweetie, or come as a single person because we have lots of single people coming too either on their own or as a group and everyone is welcome,” said Leon. “People can just enjoy listening to some music, have a good dinner for a good deal and bid on some raffle items to help out the drone search team.”

There will be a three-course dinner — a vegan option is also available. This will include a starter of a caesar salad and toast and two options for the main dish: meatloaf with mashed potatoes veggies and mushroom gravy or mild jerk chicken on a bed of coconut rice and avocado mango salsa. The vegan option includes a vegan meatless loaf with all the fixings. Dessert will be a chocolate cake with fresh berries and whipped cream.

Doors open at 4:30 p.m. Following dinner, there will be a dance with a live DJ and the night will conclude with a raffle — tickets will also be sold at the door.

The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s drone team works to help locate missing and murdered Indigenous women both by air and by foot. All money goes to the MMIW to help support families find the missing women.

“We do both ground searches and use the drone to try and locate some of these women by covering areas where these women could have gone missing and even if we don’t uncover anything that’s useful to the RCMP, it gives them information because they can’t possibly search all the areas around where these women have gone missing. It’s just too much manpower and takes too many resources to be able to do that,” said Leon. “The fact that we’re doing this work, we know that it is helpful and it’s healing and helpful for the families because it gives them an outlet and something they can actively do to contribute to trying to find their loved ones.”

She said that since 2017, five women have gone missing in the Splatsin First Nation community. That same year Leon formed the search group. The Valentine’s day event was created to help raise money for ground search supplies, as well as gas and hiking equipment.

For more information about the drone search team or the event, including purchasing advanced tickets, contact Leon by phone at 250-306-1240 or Hayes at 778-443-5028.

Related: Missing women remembered at Enderby gathering

Related: Search for missing women to continue

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