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.”


Aboriginal Women’s Claims Of Police Sex Abuse Under Investigation

Bianca Moushoun says Quebec provincial police officers stationed in Val d'Or gave her beer and traded sex acts for money and cocaine. (Radio-Canada)

Bianca Moushoun says Quebec provincial police officers stationed in Val d’Or gave her beer and traded sex acts for money and cocaine. (Radio-Canada)

CBC News

8 provincial police officers in Val-d’Or, Que., questioned

Allegations of abuse of power and assault by Quebec provincial police officers in Val-d’Or, Que., have led to an internal investigation, a spokeswoman for the Sûreté du Québec has confirmed.

It comes after Radio-Canada’s investigative program, Enquête, uncovered stories of sexual violence toward aboriginal women in the Quebec town of 32,000. Val d’Or, about 500 kilometres northwest of Montreal, is located close to several Algonquin communities.

Wounded aboriginal woman

This woman, who asked not to be identified, shows a head wound she said was sustained in an altercation with a police officer who threw her out of his car after she refused to perform a sex act. (Radio-Canada)

Speaking publicly for the first time, alleged victims told Enquête about a pattern involving the provincial police over a period of at least two decades.

They say officers routinely picked up women who appeared to be intoxicated, drove them out of town and left them to walk home in the cold. Some allege they were physically assaulted or made to perform sex acts.

Allegation of drugs for sex

Bianca Moushoun recounted how male officers would give her beer they kept stored in the trunk of their vehicles. She said the men would later take her to a remote area.

“We went to a road in the woods, and that’s where they would ask me to perform fellatio,” said Moushoun. They would pay her “$100 for the service” and “$100 to keep quiet,” she added.

“Sometimes they paid me in coke. Sometimes they paid me in cash, sometimes both.”

She said the incidents occurred about two years ago.

Another woman, who spoke on condition her name not be used, said she was assaulted by an officer in his car on the road between Val-d’Or and Waswanipi, a Cree community about 275 kilometres northeast of the town.

“He wanted a blow job. I said no,” she wrote. “He threw me out and grabbed my hair. He left me alone on the highway.”

Photos of the woman, which she says were taken after that incident, show a cut above her right eye and a wound on the top of her head. Both were sustained in the altercation with the police officer, she said.

Not all ‘bad apples’

Carole Marcil, a bartender at Le Manoir in Val-d’Or, has heard such stories from aboriginal women countless times. She estimates as many as 30 women in the area have had similar encounters.

“If they don’t perform fellatio … they get massacred,” Marcil said. The women “show up with bumps, bruises, punches and burns.”

Marcil stresses “not all” provincial police officers in Val-d’Or act that way.

“There are two or three or four bad apples [among them],” Marcil said.

Officers questioned, but still on the job

Since the women spoke to Enquête, some have filed formal complaints, and an internal police investigation has begun.

“Fourteen files have been opened for allegations related to the behaviour of our officers,” said police spokeswoman Martine Asselin. “These are allegations, not charges for now,” she added.

“All the files will be transferred to [the Crown prosecutor’s office], and we’ll see what happens after that,” Asselin said.

About 50 officers are based at the Val-d’OrSûreté du Québec detachment. Eight among them have been questioned by investigators, Asselin said. They remain on the job.

The investigation is being led by the force’s professional standards directorate.

The investigators involved are not based in Val-d’Or, Asselin said.

Police Killing Of Native American Man Exposes Hidden Epidemic Of Violence

Alcatraz Island Prison sign

Alcatraz Island Prison sign

By Akira Watts / July 28, 2015

On July 12th, Paul Castaway, a Lakota Sioux tribal citizen, was shot and killed by officers with the Denver Police Department:“

Police Chief Robert White reported at the scene Sunday that one of his officers shot and killed a man after he came ‘dangerously close’ with a long knife. However, family members said they believe the shooting was not justified after the manager at Capital City Mobile Home Park on West Kentucky Avenue showed them surveillance video of the shooting. . . . Castaway, 35, was shot four times and died Sunday evening at Denver Health. Gabriel Black Elk, Castaway’s brother, said the video shows his brother holding the knife against his own throat. He had tried to escape from police by running behind a fence, but there was no gate or opening. The video shows Castaway turning around and walking toward police, who were several feet away. The knife stays pointed toward his neck the entire time, Black Elk said. Thomas Morado, a cousin of Castaway’s, also said he had seen the video. His account matched that of Black Elk’s. ‘There was a different way to go about this,’ Morado said. ‘It didn’t have to end in his death.’”

There have been no shortage of shocking acts perpetrated against Native Americans this year. Back in February, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker smashed the dreams of the Menominee Tribe over venal considerations. Native American groups are still fighting against a deal, sponsored by Arizona Republicans John McCain and Jeff Flake, that gives 2400 acres of sacred Apache land to Resolution Copper, which intends to mine the living shit out of it. And in South Dakota, a group of drunken idiots who poured beer on Native American children will suffer little consequences for their actions.

This is something further though: more violent and less in the eye of the national media. And it is far worse than you might think. While African American men between the ages of 20 and 24 are the one demographic group most likely to be killed by the police, Native Americans constitute the racial group most at risk of police killing:

“The racial group most likely to be killed by law enforcement is Native Americans, followed by African Americans, Latinos, Whites, and Asian Americans. Native Americans, 0.8 percent of the population, comprise 1.9 percent of police killings. African Americans, 13 percent of the population, are victims in 26 percent of police shootings. Law enforcement kills African Americans at 2.8 times the rate of white non-Latinos, and 4.3 times the rate of Asians.”

Though this statistic receives little recognition, it is hardly surprising. The history of state violence against Native Americans goes back hundreds of years. Organized resistance against this violence, such as the American Indian Movement, was met with escalation of state sponsored violence. The needless death of Paul Castaway is only the latest in a string of state violence targeting Native Americans. But this string of violence has been largely invisible to the public. The needless and shocking death of Sandra Bland has galvanized the nation. One day after her death, Native American activist Rexdale Henry died, in very similar circumstances.

But the death of Rexdale Henry has seen nowhere near the public outcry and national attention as the death of Sandra Bland. That needs to change.

Let me be very clear about this. The recognition of police violence perpetrated against Native Americans, as well as the #nativeamericanlivesmatter movement is not something that stands in opposition or as an alternative to the #blacklivesmatter movement. This is not a zero sum game. Bringing the epidemic of violence against Native Americans to national attention does not mean that we must turn our attention from the epidemic of violence against African Americans. #nativeamericanlivesmatter is not analogous to #alllivesmatter. #alllivesmatter distracts from the issue in a manner analogous to responding to a query about one’s feminism with the claim that one is a humanist. #nativeamericanlivesmatter and #blacklivesmatter address related, if distinct, issues. Addressing one issue will not necessarily address the other, but it can  provide valuable insights. The movements can very much compliment and act in solidarity with one another.

Ultimately, the unjustified violence against African Americans and the unjustified violence against Native Americans are symptoms of the same root cause: a systemic racism that pervades American society, and which our police act as agents of coercion and violence in service of. Fighting against that systemic racism is a task for everyone, but it will not be accomplished by the glib claim that #alllivesmatter. Because “all lives” includes those, such as myself, who directly benefit, willingly or not, from this same systemic racism. It footnotes those who are, in actuality, directly targeted by state coercion, repression, and violence. Those voices need to be directly heard, and not smothered by a broadly obvious claim about all lives mattering. And that, ultimately, is why both #blacklivesmatter and #nativeamericanlivesmatter are necessary and essential. Both must be supported and both must be publicized.

The task now, for those who are part of the #nativeamericanlivesmatter movement, is to elevate the public’s awareness of the epidemic of violence that is occurring. Paul Castaway and Rexdale Henry should be as much a part of the national discourse as Freddie Gray and Sandra Bland. Both Native Americans and African Americans are being targeted by the police. And both of those shameful facts must be addressed.

Image: Flickr Creative Commons

Source: Reverb Press

Residents Of Large Brazil Slum Demonstrate Against Violence

Terezinha Maria de Jesus, right, mother of a 10-year-old boy who was killed by a stray bullet, shouts, "Murderer" at policemen, during a protest in the Alemao slum complex in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 4, 2015.

Terezinha Maria de Jesus, right, mother of a 10-year-old boy who was killed by a stray bullet, shouts, “Murderer” at policemen, during a protest in the Alemao slum complex in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 4, 2015.

Yahoo News

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Hundreds of people marched Saturday through the narrow streets of one of Rio de Janeiro’s largest complex of slums in a peaceful demonstration demanding an end to recent violence.

During the four-hour-long demonstration at the Complexo Alemao, protesters carried banners reading “less bullets – more love,” and “we don’t want any more deaths.”

Community leaders told reporters that at least 500 people took part in the demonstration.

The march came one day after residents briefly clashed with police at the end of a rally held to protest the shooting death of a boy in the shantytown, allegedly at the hands of police.

Ten-year-old Eduardo de Jesus Ferreira was shot dead Thursday during a police operation against suspected drug traffickers.

The boy’s mother, Terezinha Maria de Jesus, told the G1 news portal that her son was at the door of their home when she saw a police officer shoot him.

The police department has said that the officers involved in the anti-gang operation have been suspended pending an investigation.

Violence has wracked the Complexo Alemao in recent days with several suspects and bystanders shot as gangs and police exchange intense gunfire.

A 41-year-old housewife died after being hit by a stray bullet last week.

And at least two suspected gang members were killed during a firefight on Wednesday. Another three people were shot as well, all believed to have no connections to gangs. One policeman was hurt.


B.C. missing women inquiry led to changes, but roots of violence remain

Serial killer Robert Pickton was convicted on six counts of second-degree murder, but is suspected of killing dozens of women who went missing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. (Vancouver Police Department)

Serial killer Robert Pickton was convicted on six counts of second-degree murder, but is suspected of killing dozens of women who went missing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. (Vancouver Police Department)

By Elaine Chau, CBC News

Violence against aboriginal women remains a problem that police and governments aren’t addressing well enough, say women’s advocates, two years after the B.C.’s missing women inquiry released 63 recommendations for major change.

Commissioner Wally Oppal’s inquiry into missing and murdered women slammed police for botching their investigations into serial killer Robert Pickton, who preyed on Vancouver sex workers from 1997 to 2002.

The issue returned to the spotlight after the family of Stephanie Lane, whose partial remains were found on Pickton’s farm, called for a new murder charge against the killer last week.

Angela Marie MacDougall, executive director of Battered Women’s Support Services, says that when it comes to addressing violence against aboriginal women, more lasting change is needed.

“We need to see that change in an ongoing way. We need the political will. What we haven’t seen is the systemic change that we would need to get at the roots of why we have this type of violence.”

$750K for drop-in centre helping sex workers

MacDougall is optimistic about the changes she’s seeing, however, citing improvements to the Missing Persons Act and the evaluation of the Vancouver police’s Sister Watch program.

Missing Women Inquiry

B.C.’s inquiry into missing and murdered women slammed police for botching their investigations into serial killer Robert Pickton, above, who preyed on Vancouver sex workers.

She says she’s encouraged by Vancouver police efforts to improve their relationship with vulnerable women.

One of the missing women inquiry’s recommendations acted upon immediately was the provision of $750,000 to the WISH Drop-In Centre Society — an organization that provides services for sex workers.

As a result, WISH is able to stay open overnight, helping staff see many more women — around 180 in the course of the day. Kate Gibson, executive director, says her clients appreciate the change.

“I think the main thing that we hear, is that they can access the services, that it’s much more responsive to their schedules.

“I think that’s made a huge difference for women who didn’t have a safe place to go in the middle of the night.”

Tribal council calls for women’s buses in northern B.C.

MacDougall and Gibson point to northern B.C. as the region where support for vulnerable women is most needed.

According to the province’s final status update report in response to the missing women inquiry, $350,000 has been provided to the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council in Prince George to deliver community safety workshops along Highway 16.

The government also provided $75,000 to the group, to support increased access to driver education, but, more concretely, the group is asking for shuttle buses to transport women safely throughout northern communities.

Transportation Minister Todd Stone told CBC Radio’s The Early Edition in December 2014 he didn’t think shuttle buses are a practical solution.



Now It’s Time For Action

Rinelle Harper survived a vicious attack. (KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES)

Rinelle Harper survived a vicious attack. (KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES)

By: Bartley Kives | Winnipeg Free Press

Unprecedented response to the killing of one teen girl, and the attempted murder of another, indicates Winnipeg is ready to take the next step

On Canada Day, 15-year-old Tina Fontaine left Sagkeeng First Nation to visit her estranged biological mother in Winnipeg. She was reported missing one month later but slipped through the hands of police, paramedics and a social worker in two separate incidents on Aug. 8.

Her body, wrapped in plastic, was recovered on the banks of the Red River on Aug. 17, less than seven weeks after she arrived in Winnipeg.

On Nov. 6, 16-year-old Rinelle Harper, a Garden Hill First Nation student taking classes in Winnipeg, struck up a conversation with two young men in downtown’s Broadway-Assiniboine neighbourhood. They turned on her under the Midtown Bridge, where they sexually assaulted her, beat her, tossed her into the Assiniboine River and then beat her again when she managed to crawl out of the water.

On the morning of Nov. 7, construction workers found her alive but unconscious along the Assiniboine Riverwalk. She was taken in critical condition to hospital, where she pulled through.

Fontaine’s slaying and the attempted killing of Harper are just two of the more recent acts of serious violence committed in Winnipeg against indigenous women and girls, who as a group are more likely to come to harm than other Canadians.

But instead of simply being added to some grim list of statistics, these particular crimes managed to focus the attention of the entire city, province and nation on the persistent and seemingly perpetual violence inflicted against First Nations, Métis and Inuit women and girls.

The crimes committed against Fontaine and Harper — and the galvanizing effect they’ve had on efforts to reduce violence against indigenous women — are not just the local story of the year, but a Winnipeg story of national significance and Canada-wide resonance.

“The attacks on Tina Fontaine and Rinelle Harper represented a tipping point, not only in our city but also across the country. With one found dead in the Red River and the other left for dead beside the Assiniboine, there emerged a new current in the conversation around the issue of violence against aboriginal girls and women,” Winnipeg Free Press editor Paul Samyn said in a statement.

“The names behind the two faces of this national tragedy have the power to last beyond their generation by sticking in the consciousness of our readers, much like the names Barbara Stoppel and Candace Derksen still resonate in our community.”

For years, activists within Canada’s indigenous community have been trying to convince officials at all three levels of government to take more action to prevent violence against women.

In a report released in May, the RCMP quantified that violence over the past 30 years at 1,186 nationwide cases of murdered or missing indigenous women and girls. That led federal opposition parties to call for a national inquiry into the conditions that allow these crimes to occur: primarily, a disparity between indigenous Canadians and other Canadians in almost every standard-of-living metric you can imagine, including income, education, employment, access to decent housing, physical health, life expectancy, exposure to violence and rates of addiction and incarceration.

In Winnipeg, the most indigenous city in Canada by population as well as proportion, this ethnic disparity is not just highly visible. It’s a disturbing facet of urban existence that cannot be ignored, if the city is to attain any future success, socially and economically.

In recent years, a number of forces came together to draw more attention to this disparity. The most organized elements within the Idle No More movement drew attention to the historic relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians. On a parallel track, the conclusion of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission educated more Canadians about the destructive, generation-spanning legacy of the residential schools system.

The inquest into the hospital-waiting-room death of Brian Sinclair, which wrapped up in June, drew attention to the issue of systemic racism, even if that concept wasn’t overtly contemplated in the proceedings.

Then on Aug. 8, hours after mayoral candidate Gord Steeves pledged to rid downtown of intoxicated vagrants, his spouse’s four-year-old “drunken native guys” rant on Facebook was brought to light.

Tina Fontaine's killer is still at large.

Tina Fontaine’s killer is still at large.

The fuse on the ethnic powder keg was set. The discovery of Tina Fontaine’s body on Aug. 17 — as well as the recovery of the drowned body of Dakota “homeless hero” Faron Hall on the same day — ignited that fuse, albeit in a surprisingly constructive manner.

“I think her death humanized the issue. Tina Fontaine was a young child. Regardless of race, skin colouring and background, we all love our children,” said Leah Gazan, the president of the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg, a University of Winnipeg instructor and one of the organizers of an August vigil for both Fontaine and Hall.

That vigil, at The Forks, attracted a multi-ethnic crowd estimated at about 2,000. Organizers look back at it as a watershed event for ethnic solidarity in Winnipeg.

“I looked around that night and for the first time in my life, I saw more non-indigenous people than indigenous people at an event about indigenous people,” said Niigaan Sinclair, an assistant professor at the University of Manitoba and another one of the vigil’s organizers.

“People were not feeling sympathy or guilt. They were taking action to be with one another at a very traumatic time for our community. For one of the first times in this city’s history, people came together emotionally and respectfully.”

In the wake of Fontaine’s death, Winnipeg’s city council endorsed a national inquiry into murdered and missing indigenous women. Provincial leaders supported the concept as well.

The Conservative government, however, recoiled at the idea. Prime Minister Stephen Harper even declared violence against indigenous women was not a sociological issue. In doing so, he appeared tone-deaf to the concerns of ordinary people, especially in Winnipeg.

“You have so many people pushing on different fronts — the grassroots, the political level. It’s getting in the face of the average Canadian,” said Rebecca Chartrand, an indigenous educator who helped organize a volunteer effort to drag the Red River for bodies of missing women before taking a run at city council’s Point Douglas seat. She’s now seeking the Liberal nomination for the federal seat of Churchill-Keewatinook Aski.

“Winnipeggers, in general, are infuriated by what appears to be a lack of political will supporting an inquiry or other initiatives at a political level.”

In Winnipeg, where the Métis Brian Bowman now serves as the city’s first indigenous mayor, one tangible measure was taken by the city’s new police commission, which voted unanimously this month to instruct the Winnipeg Police Service to beef up its investigation of cases of slain or missing indigenous women and also do more to protect indigenous women and girls.

Police Chief Devon Clunis accepted the recommendation — but quickly explained the police already do everything in their power when it comes to investigations.

Clunis said the city’s focus must be to address the historic relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians, evoking the legacy of colonialism in establishing a modern divide in living standards that breaks down along ethnic lines.

Winnipeggers, the chief said, must be prepared to embark upon an uncomfortable conversation before standards of living can ever rise to the point where indigenous women live safer lives.

“Reducing the victimization and violence we’ve seen in the indigenous community is something the overall community has to tackle,” said Staff Sgt. Andy Golebioski of the police service’s community-relations unit.

“We have to go way beyond political correctness, though. We have to get down to it. Indigenous leadership must stand strong on this.”

Recognizing the role indigenous men play in violence against indigenous women, Golebioski’s unit has met with leaders of five of the seven First Nations that fall under Treaty 1 in an effort to create a consensus when it comes to condemning aboriginal gang violence in particular. The police are also trying to identify urban aboriginal leaders who will stand up against indigenous gangs.

On a parallel front, Gazan is working with Winnipeggers of all background to raise awareness of violence against indigenous women under the banner of a new movement called We Care.

She’s heartened by the public focus on the issue — but is only cautiously optimistic about tangible change.

“It’s dangerous to say Winnipeg is this pie-in-the-sky, rosy place,” she said.

“It’s great we’re talking about this, but now we have to move from discussion to action.”

Sinclair said he too is confident the entire city is keenly aware of violence against indigenous women as part of a broader shift in attitudes about the indigenous community.

“Change is happening faster than I ever expected in my lifetime,” he said. “But this is a marathon, not a sprint.”

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 27, 2014

Violent Standoff Continues at Myanmar Mine Protest (Video)

News / Asia

Violence is continuing at a copper mine in Myanmar, also known as Burma, as protesters continue a standoff with security forces over plans to expand the mine.

At least two people were hurt in clashes Tuesday, one day after one person was killed and 20 were injured in violence at the Letpadaung mine in the northern part of the country.

According to activists and opposition lawmakers, a woman was fatally shot Monday during a crackdown on protesters at the controversial Chinese-backed copper mine near Monywa in northwestern Myanmar, Dec. 22, 2014.

According to activists and opposition lawmakers, a woman was fatally shot Monday during a crackdown on protesters at the controversial Chinese-backed copper mine near Monywa in northwestern Myanmar, Dec. 22, 2014.

A local resident who did not want to be named told VOA’s Burmese service that protesters were continuing their campaign to stop mine expansion that would force villagers to be relocated.

In the early morning, around 2,000 members of security forces and Wan Bao security guards attempted to fence off land for the mining project, and local villagers went there to stop the attempt. Two villagers were seriously injured in shooting that ensued,” said the resident.

Police at the Letpadaung Copper Mine in northern Myanmar prepare for a confrontation with protesters, Dec. 22, 2014. (photographer unknown)

Police at the Letpadaung Copper Mine in northern Myanmar prepare for a confrontation with protesters, Dec. 22, 2014.

Wan Bao, the Chinese company that runs the mine as part of a joint project, released a statement on its website Tuesday expressing sympathy for the woman who died in the violence Monday.

The company also said most local residents support its plans and that 2 percent of the mine’s profits will go to community development. The local support cited by the company could not be independently verified.

Farmers confront a bulldozer, owned by the Chines mining company, from moving forward as riot police gather at Letpadaung copper mine, Monywa in northwestern Myanmar, Dec. 22, 2014.

Farmers confront a bulldozer, owned by the Chines mining company, from moving forward as riot police gather at Letpadaung copper mine, Monywa in northwestern Myanmar, Dec. 22, 2014.

When reached by VOA, local security officials declined to comment on the situation. Reports have said 11 police were among those injured Monday.

The U.S. State Department told VOA it was deeply concerned about the reports of casualties at the Letpadaung mine. The department said it had urged all parties to exercise restraint, and it called on Burmese authorities to conduct an “expeditious and transparent investigation” into the violence.

Villagers in northern Myanmar lay in front of a bulldozer as part of their bid to stop the controversial expansion of the Chinese-run Letpadaung copper mine, Dec. 22, 2014. (photographer unknown)

Villagers in northern Myanmar lay in front of a bulldozer as part of their bid to stop the controversial expansion of the Chinese-run Letpadaung copper mine, Dec. 22, 2014.

Expansion of the Letpadaung mine has drawn frequent protests from locals, who say they have been unfairly compensated for the land and are worried about the environmental impact of the project.

Earlier this year, two Chinese workers at the mine were briefly kidnapped by local activists. However, they were later released unharmed.

Wan Bao runs the mine together with local companies under a deal that dates to the previous military government.

Farmers confront riot police at the site of the Letpadaung copper mine near Monywa in northwestern Myanmar, Dec. 22, 2014

Farmers confront riot police at the site of the Letpadaung copper mine near Monywa in northwestern Myanmar, Dec. 22, 2014

This report was produced in collaboration with VOA’s Burmese Service.