Brenda Osborne ‘keeping hope’ new federal government will deliver on election promises
Brenda Osborne sits on a lawn chair inside a tent on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislature, where she plans to spend the winter or until she and other families get the answers they want about their loved ones.
“As long as it takes,” Osborne said Monday, when asked how long she planned to camp out. “As long as people [are] willing to help us and understand what we’re going through here, we’ll still be here.”
The tent encampment, started by her family, has been on the grounds since Oct. 1. It’s to draw attention to missing and murdered indigenous women, as well as children apprehended by the province’s child welfare system.
Osborne’s daughter, Claudette, was 21 when she vanished from Selkirk Avenue and King Street on July 25, 2008. She was the mother of four children. Osborne’s family has carried out countless searches, dragging the river, and digging up ditches in southeastern Manitoba looking for her remains.
Osborne says indigenous women and their families are tired of living in fear, and tired of broken promises.
“Why should we live in fear? A lot of people [are] living in fear of Child and Family Services. Young children and women who have been apprehended and they go missing. Some have even been murdered while in the care of CFS,” said Osborne.
New government, new hope
Osborne is hoping the new federal government will mean change.
“I am keeping hope. That is all we have. Instead of spending money to keep murderers safe in protective custody, what about our women? We aren’t safe. I am prepared to be out here for as long as it takes. Even in the winter. My daughter is missing. She is loved and not forgotten. Her children need their mother,” said Osborne.
Osborne is sleeping in a tent on the grounds. During the day, she is joined by others who have missing loved ones, those who are willing to help in the search or just to sit and show support.
Daniel Highway is from Brochet and now lives in Winnipeg. He is at the tent site to listen and offer hope. He wonders why the politicians inside the legislative building aren’t doing more to help.
“These politicians should be coming out and talking to these people. They know what is going on at the ground level. They should be talking to them. But maybe they don’t want to now because we aren’t close enough to the provincial election,”said Highway.
More money to teach parenting skills
Highway wants the new prime minister to allocate more money to education.
“More education for First Nations people, because a lot of their problems stem from a lack of parenting skills,” said Highway.
Highway was a residential school survivor and sat on a CFS board for aboriginal children. Most of the province’s nearly 11,000 children in care are First Nations children.
“There are just too many in care. This has to change,” he says.
Highway said he believes the seed for change starts at the grassroots level. And he hopes women such as Brenda Osborne won’t have to sleep outside all winter to see it.
“Hopefully they won’t have to stay too long. They are all saying they will stay until they see change. Sometimes that change can be pretty slow, and sometimes it doesn’t happen at all.”