Drums stolen from van in Calgary returned to Indigenous rights advocate

30 hand drums were taken from a van in the Dalhousie area on Tuesday. (Photo: Chantal Stormsong Chagnon)

After a plea for help and days of searching, drums stolen from a van in Calgary have been returned.

Chantal Chagnon had a black duffel bag with 30 hand drums and a ceremonial knife  taken from her vehicle on Tuesday morning, outside the Cree8 office in the Dalhousie area.

She is a singer, educator and Indigenous-rights advocate who tours Calgary schools.


Chagnon got a call from police Saturday afternoon saying her drums had been recovered.

“They said hey we found a bag in one of your neighbour’s yards, and I was like really? So I went and I met them and confirmed, and yep they were my drums, not all of them but most of them are there. So I can continue to work schools and continue sharing music,” said Chagnon.

There are still six drums and a ceremonial knife missing.

Chagnon believes, had it not been for the wide coverage her story received in the media and online, her drums would not have been returned.

As for the thief, she thanks them for eventually giving the drums back.

Indigenous rights advocate appeals for return of drums stolen from van in Calgary

30 hand drums were taken from her van in the Dalhousie area on Tuesday, May 8, 2018. (Facebook: Chantal Stormsong Chagnon)

An Indigenous rights advocate is calling on the community to help locate dozens of traditional drums stolen from a van in northwest Calgary this week.

Chantal Chagnon says she uses the drums for marches, rallies, and educational purposes.

A black duffel bag, with 30 hand drums and a ceremonial knife inside, were taken Tuesday morning from outside the Cree8 office in the Dalhousie area.

Chagnon who tours Calgary schools has posted several images on her Facebook page and Cree8’s wesbsite in the hopes that someone will come forward with more information about the missing drums.

Chagnon is a singer, educator and Indigenous-rights advocate with ties to the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan.

She says the drums — which she made herself — hold a cultural and spiritual significance, which help bring together people from all backgrounds.

First Nation wants Controversial Sculpture by New York Artist Taken Down

The Bowfort Towers

A First Nation near Calgary is calling on the city to remove a controversial piece of public art that has previously drawn criticism from those who don’t like the $500,000 price tag as well as those who just don’t like its looks.

On Tuesday, Kevin Littlelight of the Tsuu T’ina First Nation lambasted the sculpture by New York artist Del Geist, which is called “Bowfort Towers” and is located near Canada Olympic Park.

Littlelight called the sculpture — consisting of steel beams and Alberta rundle stones — offensive, saying it appears to emulate Indigenous burial scaffolding.

Littlefield said the First Nation believes that attempting to reflect Indigenous symbolism without collaborating with local artists and elders “is not reflective of other recent steps by Calgary City Hall to respect Treaty 7 Nations.”

Geist, who grew up in North Dakota, has previously said he did speak with Blackfoot elders and has said the use of four towers in the piece is a nod to the traditional significance of the number, but has denied accusations of cultural appropriation.

The use of rock and steel has long been a staple for the artist, whose work has been displayed around the world for more than 40 years.

“As an artist, using the natural sciences as a palette, he has developed major site-specific artworks throughout the U.S. and Europe,” reads the biography on his website.

“His environmental artworks elicit unique qualities inherent to a place, fostering a viewer’s direct sensory experience. The stone and earth, metaphorically, contain the natural history of a region and its geology, capturing the spirit and flavour of an area.”

City councillor Sean Chu, a vocal opponent of public funding for the arts, called the sculpture “the worst kind of wasteful spending of tax dollars” while many on social media have criticized the look of the piece. One person suggested it belonged in a recycling bin.

Indigenous artist Adrian Stinson argued it’s up to municipalities to do a better job of vetting art projects.

“The artist needs to show the group what they’re working on so that people can actually give input to say, ‘oh you know, there’s a red flag — that’s too close to a brutal platform, you might want to rethink that because you’re going to offend people,’ ” he said.

Littlelight said this could be an opportunity for the city to learn from its failures, adding the First Nation would like to see elders and cultural experts help in the next step moving forward.

“There’s great artists that are Albertans, Aboriginal artists that are Albertans, southern Albertans, cowboys, Indians, that should be our focus and we should be pushing that,” he said. “Nobody comes to Calgary to look at New York art.”

He said he has some empathy for Geist.

“I can’t really speak for him but it is a strike out,” he said. “What do you do? You have to rebuild and if I was the artist I would reach out to the art community of Treaty 7 and redo things. Diego Rivera was a great artist, he had to redo art all the time, it’s no different here.”

The Canadian Press


Watchdog: Calgary Police Made Mistakes In Investigation of Colton Crowshoe

Colton Crowshoe’s family speaks out against police investigation. Jul 26. Calgary. Body found in pond next to Stoney Trail

The Canadian Press  | April 13, 2017

CALGARY — An Alberta agency that investigates police says Calgary officers made a series of mistakes as they investigated the disappearance of a young indigenous man who was later found dead.

But the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team says it does not believe those errors in Colton Crowshoe’s case were the result of racism or that they amounted to a crime.

“The evidence gathered in the ASIRT investigation clearly demonstrates that the initial stage of this investigation was beset by a series of assumptions, errors, and oversights by (Calgary Police Service) personnel,” executive director Susan Hughson said Thursday afternoon.

“I want to make it clear, CPS has not been cleared of wrongdoing. CPS’s investigation into Colton Crowshoe’s missing person complaint was not done properly. The one thing we can say is that it was not the result of racism that we could find evidence of, but they are not cleared.”

Police charged 18-year-old Crowshoe in July 2014 with trespassing and break and enter. He was released from custody and was last seen on video walking away from a police station in good spirits.

But a few days later his family reported him missing and, three weeks later, his body was discovered in a city retention pond. An autopsy determined his death was a homicide and that case remains unsolved.

Crowshoe’s relatives alleged police did not take their missing person report seriously and accused the force of racism.

Colton Crowshoe

Hughson said ASIRT reviewed 28 other missing persons investigations and could find no evidence race played a role in how Crowshoe’s was handled.

Still, the investigation was botched.

“Several of the missing person policy protocols were not followed,” she said. “As a result, there was minimal investigation of the missing person report, no follow-up or file continuity, no accountability or file ownership, a failure to document relevant new information, and most importantly, no police-initiated communication with the family.

“They (the family) may have been wrong about the racial profiling potentially, but they are not wrong that there were problems with Colton’s missing persons investigation.”

The family also alleged that Crowshoe was roughed up during his initial arrest.

ASIRT examined that allegation as well and found that there were no grounds for criminal charges against officers.

“In this case, it is clear that at the time this contact occurred, the officer is in the lawful execution of his duties. He is doing his job,” Hughson said.

She gave the Calgary Police Service credit for reviewing the case itself after it came to light and making changes to the way missing persons cases are investigated.

She said there are lessons to be learned for all police forces when it comes to missing persons cases.

“They need to be treated as potential homicides in many cases,” she said. “Often people will turn up so I understand why there is almost a complacency … but in the cases where they don’t, that time can be critical.”

The Calgary Police Service issued a news release late Thursday saying their internal review has resulted in changes being made to improve the process of managing missing person files.

Those changes include “clearer guidelines for frontline officers and investigators as well as a more thorough accountability framework” that adds checks and balances to ensure missing person files are “managed to the highest standard possible.”

The service also said its policy around communicating with family members of missing persons has also been strengthened.

“To ensure we have covered all the concerns in the ASIRT investigation, we will be reviewing their report in detail to determine if any additional lessons can be learned,” said the statement.

“The tragic death of Mr. Crowshoe remains an active investigation and we ask for anyone with information to come forward.”

Hughson said Crowshoe’s family is devastated by the young man’s death.

“Someone out there knows what happened to Colton Crowshoe,” she said.

“This is a good, loving family that never gave up. Please, I am going to ask you to come forward. Give this family the chance to heal.”



Yelling ‘I Hate White People’ And Punching One, Wasn’t A Hate Crime, Judge Rules


July 7, 2016

An indigenous woman in Calgary, who yelled “I hate white people” before punching a white woman in the face did not commit a racially motivated hate crime, a judge has ruled.

Provincial court Judge Harry Van Harten, in a written decision, said Tamara Crowchief’s motivation for striking Lydia White was not related to racial bias.

Crown prosecutor Karuna Ramakrishnan, who had sought a sentence of 12 to 15 months, argued Crowchief’s unprovoked attack last Nov. 1, amounted to a hate crime.

But Van Harten agreed with defence counsel Adriano Iovinelli that there was insufficient evidence to establish Crowchief attacked White because of the colour of her skin.

Van Harten said unlike offenders in several cases cited by Ramakrishnan, there was no suggestion Crowchief was associated with any group that promoted hatred toward a specific race.

“The offender said, ‘I hate white people’ and threw a punch,” Van Harten said in his ruling.

“There is no evidence either way about what the offender meant or whether . . . she holds or promotes an ideology which would explain why this assault was aimed at this victim,” he said.

“I am not satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that this offence was, even in part, motivated by racial bias.”

White was outside Jaimieson’s pub on 17th Avenue S.W., with a friend when an acquaintance of Crowchief’s approached and asked for, and was given, a cigarette.

As White and her male friend spoke to that woman, Crowchief approached and, without warning, yelled “I hate white people” and punched her in the face, knocking out a tooth.

Crowchief and the woman then walked away, but White and her friend followed and called police, who arrived a short time later and arrested the offender.

During her arrest, Crowchief told police “the white man was out to get her.”

In her victim-impact statement, White said she still doesn’t comprehend what motivated her assailant.

“I still get angry when I think about it,” she said.

“I don’t understand why this woman did this. I never did anything to her. Never even spoke to her,” she said.

Van Harten agreed with Iovinelli the more than six months Crowchief had spent behind bars, which he equated to a 9 1/2-month sentence, was sufficient jail time for Crowchief.

He placed the city woman on 12 months probation and ordered her to get psychological and psychiatric counselling, as well as counselling for substance abuse.

She must also abstain from consuming intoxicating substances and is prohibited from going to any business whose principal sale is alcohol.

Source: Calgary Herald

Self-Defence Class Dedicated To Murdered Calgary Mother

The murder of a young Calgary mother has prompted a local woman to take action to protect others. Carolyn Kury de Castillo, Global News

The murder of a young Calgary mother has prompted a local woman to take action to protect others. Carolyn Kury de Castillo, Global News

By Global News

CALGARY — The murder of a young Calgary mother has prompted a local woman to take action to protect others.

Christa Cachene, 26, was beaten to death in her Ranchlands home in October.

This weekend, her aunt organized a self-defence class aimed at helping other women.

“Things have to change for our people. Especially our aboriginal women, indigenous women. It has to change somehow, someway. And I am hoping this class will help encourage them to kind of push themselves. There is something better out there. They don’t have to take this,” said Betty Ann Blue Cloud.

Blue Cloud has been taking Kung Fu classes at Damerji’s Martial Arts Academy in northeast Calgary for years.

Her niece’s death prompted her to approach the studio’s owner to offer a day of free instruction.

“I know many stories from Betty about women who don’t know how to protect themselves. I said, ‘we can help. We can work together to make the women be able to protect themselves,’” said Hussein Damerji, who is a three time world champion in Wuhsu Kung Fu.

Women attending the class are keen to learn the Kung Fu and to be part of an event in Cachene’s memory.

“It affects all families. It affects the men just as much is the women, so I think it has a lot to do with education. Educating our boys and our sons and our husbands,” said Janet Graham.

Blue Cloud hopes everyone can learn something from Cachene’s death. She is encouraging people to support vulnerable women and let them know there is help available.

“If somebody would’ve taken the time to talk to her, had someone discuss things with her, just talked with her to make her aware that this is not right,” said Blue Cloud. “We, as mothers and aunts and grandmothers, should take the time as women to talk to people. Take that extra one or two minutes or whatever it takes to talk to another person, whoever you come across that needs that help. Don’t get so overwhelmed by other stuff in life. That moment is there for you to help that person.”

While the women at the class were happy to learn defensive techniques against attackers, Blue Cloud says what really needs to change is the behavior that puts women in fearful positions in the first place.

“It’s not right for you to think that it’s OK to be physically violent or physically trying to hurt a female. There is a reason why we are here. And it’s not for you to harm us. We have so much to offer.”

Isaiah Riel Rider, 18, of Calgary has been charged with second degree murder. Police say he was a guest at the party held at Cachene’s home the day she was killed.


Calgary Police Look To Speak With Man In Connection With Murder Of Christa Cachene

Christa's family made an emotional statement and pleaded with those who attended her party Saturday to come forward and help with the investigation. (Left) Aj Cachene (brother), Leslie Whitehead (father), Nancy Cachene (mother), Jaci Cachene (sister), Julian Redwood (bother-in-law).

Christa’s family made an emotional statement and pleaded with those who attended her party Saturday to come forward and help with the investigation. (Left) Aj Cachene (brother), Leslie Whitehead (father), Nancy Cachene (mother), Jaci Cachene (sister), Julian Redwood (bother-in-law). LUCIE EDWARDSON- METRO

By Red Power Media, Staff, Updated Oct 14, 2015

Family Have Identified Homicide Victim Found In Calgary Home

Police are asking the public to help them track down an 18-year-old Calgary man they want to speak with in connection with a weekend murder.

Christa Cachene’s family are asking anyone who knows anything about her death to come forward.

Police were called to the 0-100 block of Ranchlands Bay N.W. at about 5:30 p.m. Sunday, where they found Cachene’s body.

Calgary City Police hold the scene at a homicide on Ranchlands Bay NW in Calgary, Ab., on Monday October 12, 2015. Mike Drew/Calgary Sun/Postmedia Network Mike Drew/Calgary Sun

Calgary City Police hold the scene at a homicide on Ranchlands Bay NW in Calgary, Ab., on Monday October 12, 2015. Mike Drew/Calgary Sun/Postmedia

Police believe Cachene hosted a party Saturday night in her home.

Staff Sgt. Colin Chisholm said Cachene was found dead as a result of a “vicious beating”, which took place early Sunday morning after the party had ended.

A photo of 18-year-old Isaiah Riel Rider, of Calgary, has been released.

Police say they believe Rider was at the party and that he is wanted on a province-wide warrant for assault as well as a Canada-wide warrant for breaching a conditional sentencing order.

This photo was publicly visible on Rider's Facebook profile. FACEBOOK

This photo was publicly visible on Rider’s Facebook profile. FACEBOOK

Rider is described as an Aboriginal male, approximately six-foot-two, 155 lbs., with black hair and brown eyes.

Anyone with information on Rider’s whereabouts is asked to call the Calgary Police Service’s non-emergency line at 403.266.1234 or the Homicide Unit Tip line at 403.428.8877. Tips can also be left anonymously by contacting Crime Stoppers.

Homicide victim Christa Cachene. FACEBOOK

Homicide victim Christa Cachene. FACEBOOK

Just days before her death, Cachene, 26, posted a video to her Facebook page reminding friends and family that time is valuable.

“So I realize that time is very, very valuable,” she said. “That’s a piece of your life you will never ever be able to get back, so be careful who you spend your time with.”

Video: Chryss Cache, Time is valuable 

Friends took to the social media platform to express their shock and sadness at Cachene’s passing.

Elena Tatiana commented “Going to miss you, homie” on a photo of Cachene, while Ben DoverMeow said “Rest In Paradise Christa Cachene.  Love you Cous.”


Updated: Calgary police have confirmed RCMP located Isaiah Riel Rider and he is now in custody.

Vigil Held For Missing And Murdered Aboriginal Women

People gathered in front of City Hall on Monday to show their support of Sisters In Spirit, an organization seeking answers for the loved ones of hundreds of missing and murdered women in Canada.

People gathered in front of City Hall on Monday to show their support of Sisters In Spirit, an organization seeking answers for the loved ones of hundreds of missing and murdered women in Canada.

CTV News‎

Residents of Calgary gathered on Monday in the hopes of triggering some action on the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal woman as part of a larger national event taking place in many other communities across the country.

The Sisters In Spirit vigil began outside Calgary City Hall on Monday afternoon.

It has been ongoing every October for 11 years, but it’s more important this year because it is just two weeks away from Election Day and organizers say they have a chance to influence future policy makers as a result.

There have been other elections, but they also say that awareness of the number of murdered and missing Aboriginal women have gone up in recent days.

It’s partly because of more people speaking out, but also because of a large number of recent high profile cases.

Aboriginal women are just four percent of the Canadian population, but make up 16 percent of all homicides involving women. In the Prairies, that figure jumps to 28 percent.

Those behind the rally hope their efforts are enough to spark an inquiry and put an action plan in place.

Sisters In Spirit vigils are being held in a number of cities across the country in the hopes of spurring action on the issue of murdered and missing Aboriginal women in Canada.

Sisters In Spirit vigils are being held in a number of cities across the country in the hopes of spurring action on the issue of murdered and missing Aboriginal women in Canada.

“We know the federal government said it’s not high on his radar, so we’re asking him to reconsider his statement and understand that this is affecting so many,” said Josie Nepinak with the Sisters In Spirit.

On Sunday, a similar event was held in Edmonton, which began with a smudging, the burning of various medicinal plants to create a ritual cleansing smoke that is expected to lift negative energy, feelings, and emotions. It was followed by an open prayer and a rally walk.

Many people at the ceremony carried placards bearing photos and names of their loved ones.

Nearly 1,200 women are being honoured at these events across Canada.

The rally began at noon at City Hall plaza with remarks by Mayor Naheed Nenshi and then proceeded to Eau Claire Market, with a series of remarks from families of murdered and missing women, special guest speakers, and traditional Aboriginal drummers and singers.


Family, friends remember murdered Aboriginal woman as wait for justice continues

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Oct 19, 2014

Family, friends remember murdered Aboriginal woman in Calgary as wait for justice continues

Although the weather couldn’t have been more calming with a gentle breeze and a bright blue sky, there’s no peace of mind for Sandra Manyfeathers-O’Hara.

Her sister, 44-year-old Jackie Crazy Bull, was murdered on July 11, 2007, after a stabbing spree in Calgary, which resulted in four other victims.

Jackie was the only one who died.

Seven years later, no charges have been laid and her family says Calgary police have ignored the case despite plenty of evidence.

Saturday was the fifth annual Walk For Justice in her memory, a painful reminder of the crime and lack of results, as two dozen people chanted, read speeches and marched along 17th Avenue to the location where she was attacked.

Manyfeathers-O’Hara said in the early days of the investigation, there was much more contact with police, but they haven’t heard from them in over five years.

“I like to see myself as an individual that is fair and I like to see myself as somebody that would give the benefit of the doubt to the police,” she said. “After the first year, we didn’t hear anything back from the police, so any information that comes to us about Jackie comes to us generally through the media or other sources but never from the police.”

In recent years, CPS officials have said they have been working on the case and there are instances where accused killers aren’t found for many years after their crimes.

But Manyfeathers-O’Hara said the event is not just about her sister, but all missing and murdered Aboriginal women, for which there have been multiple calls in the last two months for a national inquiry.

“We’ve reached an epidemic,” she said. “The problem starts at the top with the government and their stance or the lack thereof in terms of investigation toward missing and murdered Aboriginal women.”

“What we want to do is both give dignity to Jackie and also show that we’re here and we’re going to stay here until we find justice.”

Someone who knows the pain of the violence as well is Delilah Saunders, whose pregnant sister Loretta was killed in February.

She was writing her honours thesis at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax on the same violent topic when she went missing and her body eventually found along the Trans-Canada Highway in Moncton.

The accused murderers in that case will go to trial in April.

Delilah now calls Calgary home and said she would not miss this event.

“Since she can’t be here, I’d like to be here to represent her and lend my voice,” she said. “She would be down here doing the exact same thing that I’m doing and I’m just really happy to be here and help them.”

She has also started a blog, where she discusses her experience and reaches out to other homicide survivors.