A little humanity would go a long way Linda Beardy’s family, Indigenous community deserves more than ‘case closed’ from the city that ended her life

I’m often asked to speak to police officers who frequently interact with Indigenous communities.

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I’m often asked to speak to police officers who frequently interact with Indigenous communities.

One of the first things I say is that when you show up wearing a uniform representing “the law,” very few Indigenous people think you’re there to help them.

In fact, we often think quite the opposite.

When officers arrived Thursday to tell Linda Beardy’s family that they had concluded, as Winnipeg police Chief Danny Smyth announced shortly afterwards, “there was no evidence to support homicide” in their loved one’s death, I’m not surprised they were upset.

The historical mistrust of police very real in Indigenous communities and it has been well-earned.

What the Beardy family felt is more than that.


“Our family is saddened that the Winnipeg Police Service has made an early determination that the death of our sister, Linda Beardy, is not being further investigated as a homicide. We do not feel that they treated us respectfully and we felt intimidated. We also believe that they have not been transparent in the dissemination of information,” a statement issued Thursday said.

“As a result our trust has been eroded and we feel this impacts the investigation. We believe that a more fulsome investigation must take place and an opportunity for all tips to be followed up with. There are many unresolved questions that must be answered.”

                                <p>Linda Mary Beardy</p>


Linda Mary Beardy

Anyone who watched Smyth’s news conference had to agree.

The details shared by Winnipeg’s top police officer about a human being clearly in distress alongside his remark that the “toxicology report is still pending” can only be described as inhumane.

The family might have agreed to a news conference, but no one would ever have agreed to brutal, minute details about whether the lid on the bin was “partially or fully open,” what “enticed” Beardy to enter it, or that police “don’t know” if her death was a “societal issue.”

Beardy was a mother who, in the middle of the day on a weekday in our city, died under horrible, unnecessary and tragic circumstances.

That’s on all of us.

We are all a part of each other’s lives in this place.

Statement of gratitude from the family of Linda Mary Beardy

April 10, 2023

Treaty 1 Territory — It is never easy to say goodbye to a loved one who has left before their time. It is even more difficult in these circumstances. We know how we will remember our sister, auntie, niece, cousin and loving mother, Linda Mary Beardy. We hope you will remember her in this way as well.

All of us, Linda’s family and community are overwhelmed and grateful for all the support we have received from the moment we received the news of her passing and throughout the week. We appreciate the number of people that came out to march for our sister and for all our loved ones that have gone missing or murdered. We must continue to channel our energy for change, so we no longer must mourn these tragic losses of our loved ones.

We are currently in the process of making funeral arrangements and these will be posted. We invite the community to come and pay their respects to Linda as she makes her final journey home on eagle’s wings.

We all had a role to play in Beardy’s death.

Anyone who thinks a human being would choose to enter a garbage bin willingly is suffering from the worst outcome of racism: apathy.

What happened last week was not “normal.” It was not OK.

To cure what happened, a society needs to understand what horrible, unnecessary and tragic circumstances exist so these can be pinpointed and addressed collectively.

In other words, Mr. Smyth, toxicology reports don’t freaking matter.

Linda Beardy might have not been murdered by an individual, but she was definitely killed by a city full of policies and systems that railroaded her to a refuse bin on a weekday morning.

It’s not enough — and frankly callous as heck — for a police chief to come out and basically say “case closed” when the case of Linda Beardy’s death is clearly not closed.

Especially when this case is in the context of an epidemic of serialized, systemic and brutal Indigenous female deaths in this city.

This is precisely why Linda Beardy’s family is not satisfied with the police investigation.

Beardy’s family is suspicious about the death. The question of what she was doing that morning is important, for example.

What were the events that led her to her fateful moment? It’s worth asking where she was and who she was with in the hours leading to her death, at the very minimum.

It’s also worth asking about her experience with city services, provincial systems and federal authorities and how trauma, racism and rampant flooding in her First Nation impacted her life in the weeks, months, and years leading to her death.

A basic, independent probe into her death — and even a cursory and perfunctory one — would show that no one chooses to enter a garbage bin.

That road was one made out of many, leading into one.

Out of all the stories coming out of Beardy’s death last week, the most evident one was that everyday citizens — and even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — thought Beardy’s death was a homicide.

It turns out it was not a simple-to-solve, easy-to-blame kind of case.

The next thing I say to police officers after telling them Indigenous peoples won’t often trust them is that they have to work doubly hard to break the cycles of violent relationships in those communities.

They have to work doubly hard. They have to learn, be kind and listen.

They have to work doubly hard. They have to learn, be kind and listen.

They have to be human.

What Danny Smyth should have said was that as much as Winnipeg was the cause of Linda Beardy’s death and the death of so many Indigenous women, Winnipeg has to become a leader in the solution.

Niigaan Sinclair

Niigaan Sinclair

Niigaan Sinclair is Anishinaabe and is a columnist at the Winnipeg Free Press.

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