Tag Archives: Urban Warrior Alliance

Family, Friends of Azraya Ackabee-Kokopenace Continue Push For Inquest A Year After Her Death

Family, friends and community members walked through Kenora in memory of Azraya Ackabee-Kokopenace on Monday, April 17, which marked a year since the 14-year-old Grassy Narrows First Nation teenager’s body was found across the street from the Lake of the Woods District Hospital after a two-day search. The Winnipeg-based community group Urban Warrior Alliance and members of the Winnipeg Bear Clan Patrol marched in support. Kathleen Charlebois/Daily Miner and News

By Kathleen Charlebois | Miner and News, April 18, 2017

Braeden Kokopenace held up a picture of his twin sister emblazoned with the words “We will not forget” and “#Justice4Azraya” for all to see during a march in her memory.

He and Azraya Ackabee-Kokopenace’s family, friends and community members from Grassy Narrows First Nation walked from Knox United Church to the wooded site across from the Lake of the Woods District Hospital where Azraya’s body was found after a two-day search a year ago on April 17. She disappeared from the hospital after police brought her there.  Friends, family and provincial representatives continue to press for inquest into her death.

Braeden said Azraya was “a sweet girl” who he loved and cared for. “I want justice for my sister,” he said during a press conference at the vigil. “She didn’t deserve to be treated like that by police.”

He referred to a video that showed a Kenora OPP officer in an altercation with Azraya a few weeks before her death, and he said he believes the incident impacted her badly. “I think it put fear into our community,” he said.

Braeden also said both youth and elders have been mourning for her in the year since her death. “Justice for my sister would mean answers about what happened to her and improving the system so less suicides take place,” he said.

Azraya’s aunt Lorenda Kokopenace said her niece’s death has been difficult to bear and the system “really failed all of them.”

She said she feels like the Anishinaabe Abinoojii Family Services, who had Azraya in their custody, is another kind of residential school system.

“That stuff needs to stop, and we need to all work together and quit sending our kids away,” Lorenda said. “She wanted to come home and they ignored that.”
Irwin Elman, the provincial advocate for children and youth in Ontario, said he has written in the past to the regional supervising coroner, Dr. Michael Wilson, to ask for an inquest.

Wilson said last October that the involvement of Child Protective Services adds “additional elements” to his investigation and requires more time, although Kenora Rainy-River MPP Sarah Campbell and Azraya’s family say an inquest is legally required as Azraya was in police custody when she died.

“A coroner’s inquest will investigate and explain circumstances around Azraya’s death and will provide us with the first step that we need to go forward so we can prevent the further loss of Indigenous youth,” Campbell said.

After walking through Kenora, marchers visited the memorial site across from the hospital, where they lit candles and put down tobacco.

Azraya’s friend Kyra Fobister shared that she often visits her friend’s grave in her home community and talks and plays songs they both like.

“We as a whole deserve to know the truth,” she said. “It may not bring her back but it’s our only way to cope with everyday life without her.”

http://www.kenoradailyminerandnews.com/2017/04/18/family-friends-of-azraya-ackabee-kokopenace-continue-push-for-inquest-a-year-after-her-death

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Indigenous Groups Take Stand Against Drug Dealing and Violence at Portage Place Mall

Police presence as Indigenous activists gathered at the back of Portage Place Mall. Photo: Red Power Media

Indigenous activists want to deter drug dealing at downtown mall

A group of Indigenous activists are making their presence known around Winnipeg’s Portage Place Mall to deter drug activity.

Members of the Urban Warrior Alliance and Crazy Indians Brotherhood have been congregating near the back entrance of the shopping Centre since mid-week.

The area in back of the mall is a well-known drug dealing site for pills and other narcotics.

Both groups have been occupying space where the drug dealers hang out and peacefully confronting those involved with the drug activity.

Activists say there is too much violence happening in and around the mall because of the drugs.

According to Vin Clarke, a member of the Urban Warrior Alliance “The women and the children don’t feel safe. The elders don’t feel safe walking through the back [of the mall] so we decided we’re going to shut all this down.”

Red Power Media was there when the groups first gathered on Thursday and spoke with organizers who said they planned to remain at the mall for the weekend. They are also planning a prayer walk on Sunday starting noon at the back of the shopping centre.

More than a dozen people rallied behind the mall on Saturday afternoon, some with drums, while warriors in camo waved Unity flags.

Denny Wood, an activist with the Alliance, said they are trying to send a message to drug dealers.

Wood told CBC News they have talked to dealers who try to sell pills like Tylenol 3 and Xanax. He said once activists have the pills in their hands they confiscate them. “We dump it right in front of them.”

Vivian Ketchum, a frequent shopper of the mall, found a drug baggie, a needle and a pill on the ground just steps outside of the back steps of the mall while a CBC camera was rolling.

The action by the groups started after an elder from the indigenous community had her cell phone stolen. The woman told Red Power Media she was recording an incident at the back entrance involving drug dealers with a gun when someone else took her phone to get rid of the evidence.

Tatty, who is with the Crazy Indians Brotherhood, said people have been robbed at gunpoint behind the Portage mall, including his aunt. She was robbed at gunpoint last week and had her purse taken.

“They wanted money to get more drugs,” he said.

Security for the Portage Place Shopping Centre refused to make a comment to Red Power Media about the allegations. The Winnipeg Police have so far also refused to make a statement about the activists presence at the mall.

In a video recorded by Red Power Media, members of the urban warrior alliance dump pills in a puddle and then crush them.

By Black Powder, RPM Staff

‘We Want The Violence to Stop’: Dozens Gather at Vigil for Jeanenne Fontaine

Lana Fontaine sat on a stool outside her largely burned-down home on Saturday evening at a vigil for her daughter, Jeanenne Fontaine, who died on Wednesday after being taken off life-support. (Austin Grabish/CBC)

Fontaine, 29, and Shania Chartrand, 21, were both shot, killed in Winnipeg this week

CBC News Posted: Mar 18, 2017

When Kimberley Kostiuk thinks about the two young Indigenous women who were shot in Winnipeg within 48 hours of each other, she is afraid for her own daughters.

“I have two young daughters that are that age. I worry for them all the time. You just don’t know … what’s going to be next. Two young women shot and killed in one week,” she said.

Shania Chartrand, 21, was shot late last Sunday night on the 200 block of Spence Street.

On Tuesday, Jeanenne Fontaine, 29, was found in her home after she was shot in the back of the head, according to her family, and the house was set on fire. She was rushed to hospital but died on Wednesday morning, after being taken off life-support.

A vigil for Fontaine took place on Saturday at 7 p.m. outside her home on the 400 block of Aberdeen Avenue.

“The whole community is sad. We are all sad. We are very scared,” Kostiuk said.

“We want the violence to stop. It’s enough, we are losing too many of our young women too soon. This shouldn’t be happening.”

Mourners came forward to offer Lana Fontaine condolences throughout the evening. (Austin Grabish/CBC)

Fontaine was the cousin of Tina Fontaine, the 15-year-old girl whose death sparked public outrage and calls for a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

Sandy Banman was one of around 50 people who attended the Saturday evening vigil. Banman hadn’t known Fontaine or Chartrand, but came to support the families and community.

“It just seems like something has shifted in the last few years, where the crime [in the North End] seems to be getting extremely … violent,” she said. “It’s just absolutely shocking what’s going on here this week in the city, with Shania’s loss as well as Jen’s loss.”

A member of Winnipeg’s Urban Warrior Alliance, Banman said she’s been to too many vigils in the past. She wants to see change.

Sandy Banman

Sandy Banman, a member of the Urban Warrior Alliance, said she wants to see more accessible detox programs for men, women and families in Winnipeg. (CBC)

“We just keep saying over and over, ‘This has got to stop,’ every vigil I do,” she said. “We do these vigils because the community needs to heal as well as families. This violence has to end. It has to stop.”

Banman said she wanted to see more accessible detox programs for men, women and families.

“We need to be healing families so this kind of crime and violence will end,” she said.

‘They are human beings’

Kostiuk is a member of Drag the Red, an organization that started searching the Red River for bodies after Tina Fontaine was found there.

Kostiuk joined the group in order to heal and to help others after her 16-year-old daughter’s death in 2000.

While Fontaine struggled with drug use and had a criminal record, Kostiuk said she was also a mother and sister.

“You hear a lot of negativity also about these people but people don’t know them,” she said.

“They are human beings. They are women. They are our women. They are mothers. They are sisters. They are grandmas. They don’t deserve this. Nobody does.”

Kimberley Kostiuk says the violence needs to stop after two young Indigenous women were shot in Winnipeg within 48 hours of each other. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

The vigil was intended to give the community an opportunity to mourn Fontaine and Chartrand and “remember the good that they had in them,” Kostiuk said. But they are becoming too frequent for the Fontaine family, she added.

“That poor family, I can’t imagine what her mother is going through right now,” Kostiuk said, adding the little cousins have lost too many family members.

“They’ve been to so many vigils already. They shouldn’t even have to think of this at a young age.”

[SOURCE]

Activists Call For Inquest Into Death Of Winnipeg Remand Centre Inmate

Errol Green with his son Darien. Green was the father of three and his wife, Rochelle Pranteau, is expecting their fourth in the fall. (Courtesy of Rochelle Pranteau)

Errol Green with his son Darien. Green was the father of three and his wife, Rochelle Pranteau, is expecting their fourth in the fall. (Courtesy of Rochelle Pranteau)

Urban Warrior Alliance wants WRC to review protocols around access to medication for people in custody

May 12, 2016

Community activists in Winnipeg are calling for an inquest into the death of Errol Green, a 26-year-old father of three, after he was detained in the Winnipeg Remand Centre (WRC) for three days without his epilepsy medication.

“I can just envision what he was going through. I was sick in jail myself, years ago, and it was the same. Neglect in jail,” said Harrison Friesen-Powder, a member of Urban Warrior Alliance, a grassroots activist group in Winnipeg.

Friesen-Powder said he saw first hand the difficulty in accessing medical help while in custody at the WRC. A family member who is currently incarcerated was also denied prescription medicine for a diagnosed mental illness, he said.

Guys will wait for days to see a doctor– Harrison Friesen-Powder

“Normally you go into the jail, you go to intake, they ask you medical questions. Then you have to request forms to ask to see a doctor, to get your medication and then that takes time whether it’s 24, 48, 72 hours longer. Guys will wait for days to see a doctor,” said Friesen-Powder.

Stories of mistreatment and neglect are common within correctional systems, according to Friesen-Powder, who said he hears those types of stories all the time. While some of the mistreatment is related to race, the denial of medication is a systemic problem, he said.

“The issue is there’s a gap or something not working in their system as far as how they’re handling inmates. Whether it’s physical illness or mental illness, it all goes back down to the medication and the treatment of inmates in general,” said Friesen-Powder.

The Winnipeg Remand Centre has not provided a spokesperson on its protocols surrounding inmate access to medication despite requests from CBC.

Errol Green with his daughters, Precious (5) and Saige (7). (Courtesy of Rochelle Pranteau)

Errol Green with his daughters, Precious (5) and Saige (7). (Courtesy of Rochelle Pranteau)

A rally for Errol Green in front of the Winnipeg Remand Centre is planned for Friday at 1 p.m. Through the rally, Urban Warrior Alliance wants to bring awareness to the mistreatment of inmates and show support for Green’s family, said Friesen-Powder.

[SOURCE]

Indigenous Activists Confront Unicity Taxi Supervisors

Urban Warrior Alliance members enter the Unicity Taxi offices on Hargrave Street. Calvin Clarke (right) says supervisors addressed their concerns, but workers in the office were yelling racist comments at them. (Courtesy Red Power Media)

Urban Warrior Alliance members enter the Unicity Taxi offices on Hargrave Street. Calvin Clarke (right) says supervisors addressed their concerns, but workers in the office were yelling racist comments at them. (Courtesy Red Power Media)

Cab companies taking complaints from indigenous community seriously, said Unicity Taxi’s general manager

Some indigenous activists in Winnipeg say the time for peaceful protest is over when it comes to standing up to the city’s taxicab companies.

On Friday, four members of the Urban Warrior Alliance entered the Unicity Taxi office on Hargrave Street in camouflage pants, jackets, bandanas and masks.

“When we showed up that way, I think we threw a scare into them, which is why we wear our masks and our camo sometimes,” said Calvin Clarke, a member of Urban Warrior Alliance. The small community activist group participates in blockades, vigils and marches for missing and murdered indigenous women.

“We need to do that to shake everything up, let people know, you know, ‘wow, these people don’t mess around,'” said Clarke.

Police were called to the scene but no arrests were made.

Urban Warrior Alliance members speak to Winnipeg Police Service officers after entering Unicity Taxi offices in protest. (Courtesy Red Power Media)

Urban Warrior Alliance members speak to Winnipeg Police Service officers after entering Unicity Taxi offices in protest. (Courtesy Red Power Media)

“To be honest, they did nothing violent,” said Unicity’s general manager, Sunny Dhir. “They just came here to talk, but I explained to them, there’s a proper way we can talk because there is a girl working here, too, maybe they’re scared.”

Dhir told them that complaints involving criminal offences should be taken up with the Taxicab Board and the Winnipeg Police Service.

Winnipeg woman files complaint, says cabbie asked her for sex.

In the meantime, the driver in question is still working. Dhir said he would only be suspended if warranted by the police investigation.

Company says complaints against drivers are few

Despite mounting concerns from the indigenous community, including a call to action from the Southern Chiefs’ Organization, Dhir said complaints against drivers are few.

“Maybe there are a few girls that are not complaining yet, but on the other hand…there’s a complaint [from] the drivers, too — drivers getting robbed, not getting paid — we have to consider both the things equally.”

Clarke said the treatment of indigenous people by cab drivers goes far beyond a few complaints, and was evident by the response from some Unicity Taxi workers on Friday night.

They were getting very upset and swearing at us — some of the workers in there were really belligerent,” said Clarke.

Clarke and other members of Urban Warrior Alliance are planning another protest at the next meeting of the Manitoba Taxicab Board.

CBC News, Posted: Mar 01, 2016

[SOURCE]