Manitoba excerpts in MMIWG Final report -
Marilou S. shared about a friend’s experience with media silence, in comparison with a non-Indigenous victim:
“We met this one family where their little girl was chopped up into little pieces and thrown into the river in Manitoba. And it happened at the same time that this little girl in Toronto, a white girl, she was chopped up and put in a suitcase, and they found her on Centre Island. And the little girl in Manitoba didn’t get any news time at all. But the little white girl was – it was all over the world what happened to her, you know?”
Dr. Janet Smylie, a family physician, and public and Indigenous health researcher, on child welfare authorities apprehending children at birth who are born to high-risk expectant mothers, largely Indigenous women, who may not be informed that a “birth alert” has been issued:
“It’s striking to me that people think it’s still okay to send a birth alert to the hospital without informing a woman. So I’m aware that other prenatal providers have actually gotten scolded by, like, social service agencies, child protection agencies, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, because they actually found out about a birth alert and told a woman that there was a birth alert, right? ...I don’t understand how that could be conceptualized, right? Because it would seem to me that it would be very important to tell people, like, if there was that kind of legal intervention happening. Like, I don’t think it’s acceptable in Canadian health care systems to hold that kind of important information and not let people know.”
Fallon F. told the story of her family’s loss. She and her parents Sherry and Maurice and two brothers lived on a farm in St. Eustache, Man. Both parents worked in Winnipeg but were very involved in their community. Sherry and Maurice were murdered in 1993, on the same day that the perpetrator – her mother’s stalker – was released from custody for breaking a restraining order, when Fallon was just 9.
On the night of the murders, she was awakened by a noise and found her mother struggling with the perpetrator, while her five-year-old brother stood crying nearby. Fallon tried to call for help on the regular seven-digit assistance line, since 911 service was not available in the area, but was chased from the phone by the killer. Eventually, and after having her three children trapped, the perpetrator threatened to kill one of them if Fallon’s mother didn’t agree to go upstairs with him.
“Eventually, Fallon was able to try to call for help several more times, but not before the perpetrator killed both of her parents, then turned the gun on himself. The children called for help from 12 a.m. on, but the police officer fell asleep and didn’t respond until 3 a.m. Fallon and her younger brother sat in the house, with their parents’ bodies, until help finally arrived at 8:30 a.m.
Karin S. testified about her mother - a Metis woman with Manitoba roots - who drowned in the Yukon River. However, Karin never felt that the question of how her mother ended up in the river was properly investigated – there were too many unanswered questions. The authorities improperly identified Karin’s mother as non-Indigenous. Karin wants to see this formally fixed on her mother’s death certificate.
“She wasn’t Caucasian – not that that’s an insult, but my mom was very proud of her First Nations heritage, Tsleil-Waututh and Manitoba Métis.”
Many family members who spoke about the disappearance or death of their loved ones spoke passionately about how their promising futures were stolen from them and from society.
The Potts family talked about the way violence had stolen the potential accomplishments their sister Misty P., who, at the time of her disappearance, was a teacher at a First Nations college, who was pursuing her PhD at the University of Manitoba and undertaking important research on the environment and traditional culture.
An Indigenous trans woman named Alaya M. testified about the degrading way she was treated by police in 2007 after she was arrested under charges that were later dropped:
“I came in confrontation with the Winnipeg Police Service... who took me to District 3 here in Manitoba, and interrogated me and taunted me for my gender, as being a trans Indigenous woman. They were calling me brutal names and really rude names for people with an authority figure. They really, you know, took their power and used it to their ability to degrade someone who was very marginalized. But, one thing I told them, I looked at them when the whole district was standing there making fun of me, insisting that I had two ounces of powdered coke, that they would never get away with it, that they would never get away with it.”
Questions about the efficacy of police enforcement to prevent crimes against Indigenous women have been around for nearly as long as Manitoba has been a province, the report found. It points to a Manitoba Free Press article from 1876 describing a case of rape in the village of Fort Macleod by a local trader.
“Though the Mounted Police were brought to the house by the cries of the Indian woman subjected to the outrage, the non-commissioned officer with them hesitated to break in the door to seize the offender.”
Source: MMIWG Final Report