Winnipegers Rally for Indigenous Rights

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thousands call on MPs to vote for Bill C-262 and adopt and implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People

WINNIPEG, MB—On Saturday, September 23, starting at 1 pm, a group of Indigenous peoples and settlers from Winnipeg (Treaty 1 territory) will walk 12 km from Stephen Juba Park to a public gathering at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba to urge the Canadian government to fully adopt and implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.

The Declaration is a landmark document that provides a framework for reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and a guide for legislators, courts, human rights groups, and other institutions. The adoption of the Declaration was one of the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

In April 2017, NDP MP Romeo Saganash, who spent 23 years at the UN helping negotiate the Declaration, tabled a private member’s bill, Bill C-262. The bill provides a legislative framework for how the Declaration would be implemented and monitored in Canada. The anticipated date for Bill C-262’s second reading is October 18.

Senator Murray Sinclair, environmentalist David Suzuki, Conservative MP Candice Bergen, and singer-songwriter Steve Bell are a few of the thousands of Canadians who have lent their signatures in support of Bill C-262.

“We’re urging our MPs to vote for Bill C-262,” says Leah Gazan, an Indigenous rights advocate who teaches at the University of Winnipeg. “The Liberal government promised to implement all 94 of the TRC’s calls to action and fully adopt the UN Declaration. I’m holding them to their promise.”

While the Canadian government supports the UN Declaration in theory, so far there is no legislative framework for its implementation and review; Bill C-262 provides both.

A key right supported by the UN Declaration is free, prior and informed consent: the right of Indigenous peoples to say “yes” or “no” to initiatives such as resource projects that impact their lands and lives.

“I’m behind this issue not in addition to, or in spite of my Christian faith, but precisely because of it,” says Steve Bell. “The gospel message is inextricably bound to issues of justice. The Scriptures take a dim view of those who possess by dispossession.”

In Winnipeg, Bill C-262 has gathered a broad coalition of grassroots supporters from churches, mosques, and community organizations.

Community organizer Michael Redhead Champagne plans to bring a group of Indigenous youth on the walk. “As an Indigenous man, I’m afraid to have children because of how I’ve seen Indigenous families treated here,” says Champagne. “The UN Declaration would guarantee that their rights would be respected.”

After the march, Winnipeggers will convene at 6:30 pm at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. The event will feature stories and performances by Ray ‘Coco’ Stevenson, Ry Moran director of NCTR, Leonard Sumner, Shahina Siddiqui and others.

Sign Petition here: http://www.adoptandimplement.com/
Read Bill C-262 here: http://www.parl.ca/DocumentViewer/…/bill/C-262/first-reading (the bill includes the 46 articles of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples)

Walk the Talk Coalition For Bill C-262 is a grassroots organization of people supporting Bill C-262.

The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation is the permanent home for all statements, documents, and other materials gathered by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. The NCTR is located at the University of Manitoba and works in partnership with a wide variety of agencies and organizations to advance Truth and Reconciliation in Canada.

Posted: Sept. 13, 2017

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Winnipeg Judge orders Parker Lands Protesters to Go Home

Protesters occupying the Parker Lands site have been given until 6 p.m. Friday to leave the property. (Bartley Kives/CBC)

Judge grants interlocutory injunction to property owners, protesters have to clear out by Friday

Protesters occupying the Parker Lands development in Winnipeg have been ordered by a judge to leave the property and clean up all their belongings by 6 p.m. Friday.

The order is part of an injunction granted by Court of Queen’s Bench Justice James Edmond Thursday afternoon.

The Parker Lands property was acquired in a land swap with the City of Winnipeg by two numbered companies connected to local developer Gem Equities.

Protesters have occupied the Fort Garry property in two encampments since July. They oppose the clearing of forested areas on the property and argue the area has historical and cultural significance to Métis and Indigenous communities.

Work on the property — which the owners described as “pre-development” — came to a standstill with the arrival of the protesters on July 14.

The injunction “means our client can get back to what they were doing in July — carrying out lawful business activities that were being stopped by illegal trespassers,” said Kevin Toyne, the lawyer for the property owners. “Our clients are quite happy that their rights have been upheld and vindicated by the courts.”

Protester not surprised by decision

Jenna Vandal, one of three protesters who made submissions Thursday opposing the injunction, said she wasn’t surprised by the decision.

“I know the court institution is here to protect and enshrine property rights,” Vandal said. “Of course, I wish it happened the other way.”

Vandal, who is Métis, said the property borders the site of the long-demolished Métis settlements of Rooster Town and Tin Town.

“Métis would have used this territory for subsistence and ceremonial purposes,” she said. “That in itself gives the land much importance and value to Indigenous and Métis people.”

Inside court, Edmond noted no Indigenous or Métis community had made an entitlement claim to the land. As well, the Manitoba Métis Federation, which Vandal said supported her efforts, made no representation to court on the issue.

Edmond said the protesters had no legal right to trespass on the property and ruled the owners would suffer “irreparable harm” if the occupation was allowed to continue.

“I am satisfied that the costs of delay are real … and the plaintiffs will suffer real harm,” Edmond said.

He said the legal remedy for the protesters would be to seek a judicial review of the city’s decision to sell the property.

“To just show up and camp on somebody else’s property, there isn’t a legal right to do that,” he said.

Until now, city police have declined to intervene in the dispute, saying they would take their cue from the courts.

Edmond ordered that protesters remove all their belongings and “obstructions” from the site in a “peaceful” manner.

“I don’t want to see confrontations,” Edmond said.

The property owners are seeking an order of $10,000 in costs from each of the three defendants who were in court Thursday.

Edmond will rule on that issue after receiving written submissions from the defendants next week.

CBC News Posted: Sep 14, 2017 

[SOURCE]

Company Denied Urgent Hearing to Remove Protesters from Parker Wetlands

Owners of the Parker Lands slated for development by Gem Equities have filed a lawsuit against protesters and an injunction demanding the group leave. Demonstrators say the land is contested Indigenous land and home to endangered wildlife. (Laura Glowacki/CBC)

Gem Equities sought injunction to remove the protesters accused of trespassing, delaying work

By Laura Glowacki, CBC News Posted: Jul 26, 2017

A Winnipeg company hoping to develop the Parker Lands was not granted an urgent hearing for an injunction motion filed on behalf of the owner to remove protesters camped out on the land.

The lawyer representing Andrew Marquess, owner of Gem Equities, told a Winnipeg courtroom Wednesday that protesters on a piece of land slated for residential development in Fort Garry are fortifying the site and insulting the law.

“They are effectively giving the middle finger to everyone who pays their taxes and the rules of law,” said Kevin Toyne, lawyer for two numbered companies as well as Marquess.

Toyne argued that an urgent hearing is needed because the company is losing potential profits by not being able to proceed with development and there is a public safety risk.

The urgent hearing was not granted. Instead, the injunction motion will be heard on Nov 2. Defendants have until Aug. 25 to file their statement of defence.

Marquess’s company, Gem Equities, is hoping to build townhouses and apartments on the 24-hectare property known as the Parker Lands.

Protesters say the land is contested with roots in the Métis community and serves as an important habitat for birds and other animals.

Protest camp prevents further clearing

Protesters set up a small camp of about six tents on the Parker Lands last week after Gem Equities began clearing trees. The company says protesters are preventing mulching equipment from moving, making further clearing of trees on the site impossible.

A small group of protesters met outside the court on Wednesday morning.

“It’s important to me and I think a lot of people because first off, the land is beautiful and there’s a lot of animals there and people have been trying to protect it for a while,” said Maddy Jantz, one of the protesters. “But most importantly, it’s Métis land and the Métis folks were not consulted. They still haven’t been.”

Protesters have been seen holding an axe and wearing masks. Parker Lands advocate Jenna Vandal said the axe was being used to chop wood for a bonfire.

“No one would be allowed to walk in this courtroom with an axe,” Toyne told the judge. “An axe is a weapon.”

Marquess acquired the property in 2009 in a controversial land swap with the city.

Protesters set up camp last week when Gem Equities started clearing trees from the site. Earlier this year, the City of Winnipeg shredded trees as part of the next phase of the city’s rapid transit bus route.

The residential development Gem Equities envisions would be called Oak Grove. The plan includes high-density towers, medium-density low-rise buildings, low-density townhouses and single-family homes, arranged in concentric circles around a Southwest Transitway station plaza.

City council has not approved the area plan, rezonings or developments necessary for the company to move forward.

[SOURCE]

Protesters Surround Machinery to Protect Winnipeg’s Parker Lands

Protesters walk through a clear-cut area that was once aspen forest in the Parker Lands on Friday. (Dereck Doherty/CBC)

Group calls for conservation area instead of development along new rapid transit route

CBC News Posted: Jul 14, 2017

A group of protesters gathered at the Parker Lands in Winnipeg Friday in an effort to halt the removal of trees and destruction of what they call an important environmental wetland area.

The group surrounded a shredding machine that had been at work since Thursday, turning timber into toothpicks.

“We’re standing in front of the machines and making sure they’re not moving,” said protester Jenna Vandal.

“The construction company came and told us we were on private land, and we said we’re actually on Native land so we’re not moving. He left and got the police to come, and the police told us they’re just worried for our safety and left after that.”

Vandal, a ​Métis woman, is considering setting up an occupation of the site, bringing out tents and lighting a sacred fire. She’s less worried about being removed by the police than about just watching the forest be destroyed.

‘It should be criminal’

Vandal has signed numerous petitions, written to politicians at all levels of government, and used social media to make as many people as possible aware of the issue.

“I feel I’ve done what I can do and there’s nothing left but direct action. And sometimes that’s the only way to get things done,” she said.

‘I feel I’ve done what I can do and there’s nothing left but direct action. And sometimes that’s the only way to get things done.’– Jenna Vandal

A group called the Parker Wetlands Conservation Committee has been lobbying government to set aside the Parker Lands — south of Taylor Avenue and just west of the Jubilee–Pembina interchange — as an ecological reserve for about three years.

“There is so much room elsewhere for development. We don’t have to develop these natural spaces that provide us with some green, and to have them destroyed,” said PWCC spokesman Cal Dueck.

“It should be criminal.”‘

Earlier this year, many of the trees were shredded as part of the next phase of the city’s rapid transit bus route.

The piece of land being targeted by protesters on Friday is privately owned by Gem Equities, which acquired it in a controversial land swap with the city.

Gem has been removing the trees ahead of expected development along the new transit route. However, the company owned by developer Andrew Marquess has not yet submitted a plan to the city.

CBC has contacted Gem Equities for comment.

In just two weeks, the PWCC has received 1,500 signatures on a petition opposed to the destruction of the area, according to Dueck.

“The remaining 42 acres of forest and wetland is slated to be sacrificed to a housing development. ‘Developing’ this area would exacerbate the already profound threats to our watershed,” the petition states, while listing the flora and fauna that will be impacted by the loss of their natural habitat.

‘Much of the flora and fauna on the property is no longer found elsewhere in Winnipeg.’– Cal Dueck

“The Parker wetlands and aspen forest is home to myriad wild creatures including whitetail deer, foxes, frogs and toads, a great horned owl, a family of Cooper’s hawk, swallowtail butterflies, milkweed, yellow lady-slippers, the mysterious bottle gentian, and big bluestem (as well as vestiges of both mixed-grass and tallgrass prairie ecosystems), to name only a fraction of the population,” the petition says.

“In March the tracks of a short-tailed weasel were spotted, and recently a Canada warbler and a whip-poor-will, both classified in Manitoba as threatened under the Endangered Species and Ecosystems Act, were observed.”

Call for conservation area

Dueck is calling on the city and the province to “save this heritage forest” by issuing an immediate stop-work order until the land can be purchased or expropriated from Marquess.

Dueck is also urging Marquess to offer the land to the city or province “at a reasonable price” so it can be held as a conservation area.

“Much of the flora and fauna on the property is no longer found elsewhere in Winnipeg,” he said, noting that in 2000, the area was designated as an ecologically sensitive natural heritage area.

But at some point during the administration of previous mayor Sam Katz, the area was re-designated as a major redevelopment area, Dueck said.

In addition to the plants and animals in the area, the land is an important part of Indigenous history, said Vandal.

“Rooster Town, a Mé​tis settlement destroyed in 1960, was situated right next to the Parker wetlands,” she said. “Structures, arrowheads and bison-skinning tools have been found in this urban forest.

“I will fight to defend this land that cared for my Indigenous ancestors, both Métis and First Nations.”

The protesters say they will remain at the site until Friday evening.

[SOURCE]

First Nations Activists from Winnipeg to Blockade TransCanada Highway on Friday

Blockade at Ontario and Manitoba border. Photo: Red Power Media

Red Power Media | June 29, 2017

For immediate release

On, June 30th, 2017, First Nations activists from Winnipeg will be shutting down a portion of the TransCanada Highway to protest the Canadian government and bring awareness to the youth suicide crisis in First Nations communities as well to the deaths of several indigenous youth in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Members of the American Indian Movement, Urban Warrior Alliance and Idle No More will be taking part in a pipe ceremony for youth, followed by a blockade of the highway.

Representatives from groups taking part are demanding the Liberal government increase the availability of mental health services on reserves and provide culturally appropriate resources for youth including in Manitoba. Inadequate health-care services, the loss of cultural identity and lack of proper housing are key factors contributing to the high rates of suicide and mental illness among indigenous peoples. Recently in Ontario, three 12 year old girls died by suicide at Wapekeka First Nation, located about 600 kilometres north of Thunder Bay. The latest one happened June 13th when a pre-teen girl hung herself.

The deaths of several Indigenous youth in Thunder Bay have also raised concerns about racism against Indigenous people and inadequate police investigations. First Nations leaders have expressed their lack of faith in Thunder Bay police. The York Regional Police service have been requested to investigate the deaths of Josiah Begg, 14, and Tammy Keeash, 17, found dead in McIntyre River in May. Ten indigenous people have been found dead in Thunder Bay, since 2000. Seven were First Nations students who died between 2000 and 2011 while attending high school in the Thunder Bay, hundreds of kilometres away from their remote communities where access to education is limited. Organizers of Fridays protest would like to see improvement in First Nations education and increase in funding for schooling on reserves.

Activists are requesting the RCMP respect their right to protest. They plan to start their demonstration around 12 pm just east of Winnipeg near Deacon’s corner. A press conference will also take place at that time. Activists are planning to hand out information to motorists and collect signatures on a petition calling for immediate action from the minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Carolyn Bennet, as well as the Minister of Health Jane Philpott.

3 Men Arrested in Connection to Killing of Tina Fontaine’s Cousin

Jeanenne Chantel Fontaine died after being shot and being exposed to a fire on March 14. Three people have been arrested in connection to the homicide. Winnipeg Police Service Handout

Global News | May 17, 2017

Three men have been charged in connection to the death of Jeanenne Fontaine, 29, who was found shot in the head in a North End home in March.

Fontaine is the cousin of Tina Fontaine, the teenage girl whose body was found wrapped in a bag in the Red River in August 2014.

On March 14 at 9:45 a.m., police were called to a house fire 400 block of Aberdeen Avenue. Crews found Fontaine in the house and she taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries where she later died.

Fontaine was shot in the head before the fire began, police said.

Investigators also determined the fire was deliberately set.

On May 16, homicide investigators went to the Provincial remand Centre and arrested three men in connection to her death.

Christopher Mathew Brass, 34, has been charged with manslaughter and arson disregard for human life. Malcolm Miles Mitchell, 24, has been charged with second-degree murder and arson disregard for human life. Jason Michael Meilleur, 38, has been charged with manslaughter.

All three are in custody.

Brass was also arrested and charged in connection to another homicide that happened in February.

On Feb. 8, Bryer James Prysiazniuk-Settee, 24, was found shot in the area of Powers Street and Aberdeen Avenue. He was taken to hospital in critical condition and later died.

Brass has been charged with second-degree murder.

[SOURCE]

Hundreds Gather at Vigil and March for Christine Wood in Winnipeg

Christine Wood, 21, disappeared in Winnipeg in August 2016. Photo: Red Power Media

Hundreds remembered Christine Wood at a vigil on Wednesday 

By Red Power Media, Staff | April 13, 2017

A vigil was held Wednesday evening in Winnipeg for Christine Wood. It began at 341-Burrows Avenue, the house where Winnipeg Police believe the young indigenous woman was murdered. Friends, family and community members then marched to Thunderbird House on Main Street.

About 250 people gathered to remember Christine.

During the march drummers lined the street to pay their respects to Christine’s family.

On Aug. 19, Christine, 21, went missing after a visit to Winnipeg with her family from Oxford House First Nation in Manitoba. She never came back to her hotel after going out that evening.

On Saturday, April 08, Brett Overby, 30, was charged with the murder of Christine.

Police also allege Christine was killed on or around Aug. 20 – the day after she went missing.

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Officers arrested and charged Overby, with second-degree murder. Christine’s body has still not been found.

A community vigil for Christine was held at St. Mary’s Parish on 365 Burrows Avenue, near the location where she was killed. The service was put on by Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), the Canadian Centre for Child Protection and the Bear Clan Patrol.

Melinda Wood weeps as she attends a walk for her daughter Christine with her husband George Wood, left, and Winnipeg Police Chief Danny Smyth, right. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

Winnipeg police chief Danny Smyth led the march alongside Christine’s parents, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Sheila North Wilson and Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Derek Nepinak.

The march finished with a memorial at the Thunderbird House.

Marchers make their way to a memorial for Christine at the Thunderbird House. Photo: Red Power Media

Police say the accused and Christine were unknown to one another and it does not appear there was a relationship between them.

Christine’s family and her parents George and Melinda Wood, along with members of the community, including the Bear Clan Patrol, have all been looking for Christine since her disappearance on Aug. 19.

“I can’t really explain how it feels to lose a child like that, a daughter, your only daughter, your baby,” George Wood, Christine’s father said. “I just hope whoever this person is, and I’m not going to waste my words labeling him, I just hope he does the right thing to say where he put her body.”

People living on the Oxford House First Nation also gathered for a vigil to honour Christine last Saturday.

Brett Overby Charged with Second Degree Murder in Christine Wood Homicide, Body Still Missing

Christine Wood, 21, disappeared after she went out with friends for the evening on Aug. 19, 2016. (File Image)

Police believe Christine Wood killed hours after going missing

By Black Powder | RPM Staff, April 10, 2017

Days after police charged a Winnipeg man with second-degree murder in the disappearance of Christine Wood, officers said they still have not found her body.

According to Global News, on Saturday, Brett Overby, 30, was charged with the murder of Christine Wood, 21. Documents also allege Wood was killed on or around Aug. 20 – the day after she went missing.

On Aug. 19, after going out that evening, Wood from Oxford House First Nation, never returned to the hotel where her family was staying after coming to Winnipeg for a medical appointment.

The case was treated at a missing person’s investigation until January 2017, when the homicide unit took over as lead investigators.

Overby, was arrested March 21 after police searched a home in the 300 block of Burrows Ave. At the time, he was charged with an unrelated offence.

CTV News reports, Winnipeg Police Service Sergeant John O’Donovan said officers ended up at that home as a result of information from a number of warrants and production orders on electronic devices Wood used prior to her death.

The Forensic Identification Unit stayed at the home for several days.

Overby, was questioned, but he was let go as there wasn’t enough forensic evidence to lay any charges.

Brett Overby, 30, was charged with the murder of Christine Wood, 21. Instagram. Source Global News

On April 6, forensics tests came back and the following day the Crown Attorney authorized a second degree murder charge against Overby.

Police were able to provide evidence to the Crown’s office that Wood, not only was she present, but she was killed in that house.

Although police believe Wood was killed in Overby’s home, they do not have any information from the accused on where her body is.

During a media conference Monday, Police Chief Danny Smyth said “We will continue on this investigation until we find her remains.”

In September the police said there were “multiple sightings of Wood.” They also said she was was facing some “personal challenges” and may be associated with people tied to drug trade.

However, police now say, they do not believe drugs or gang affiliations are involved.

Police also say the accused and Wood were unknown to one another prior to Aug. 19 and it does not appear there was a relationship between them.

Winnipeg police press conference concerning Christine Wood, Monday.

Grand Chief Sheila North Wilson was at the media conference speaking on behalf of Wood’s family.

“After the most difficult eight months of our lives, we are mourning the loss of our daughter,” North Wilson said in a statement written by Wood’s family.

The family will be in Winnipeg for a vigil on Wednesday.

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]