Sask. group raising awareness for missing and murdered indigenous men
For Colleen Whitedeer, every step on her long walk from Prince Albert, Sask. to Regina is a painful reminder that her brother is still missing.
“It’s been quite the journey,” Whitedeer said.
Timothy Charlette and his girlfriend Beatrice Adam went missing in October 2014.
Adam’s body was found shortly after the couple was reported missing, but Charlette was never heard from again.
“It’s really hard on the family,” Whitedeer said.
“It’s the not knowing part that’s really hard.”
The federal government announced a $54 million inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women in August. It’s expected to make recommendations on how to remove systemic violence against indigenous women and offer suggestions on how to honour and commemorate them by the end of 2018.
Charlette said the inquiry for women was urgently needed, but she believes there should also be an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous men.
“I’m really hoping that Saskatchewan will wake up and say yes, we need to address this issue because it boils down to racism and discrimination,” Whitedeer said.
“I want to go national because I feel there’s a lot more that needs to be done.”
Cheryl Bob-Redstar was walking to remember her brother Darren George. He went missing four years ago and was found dead a few days later.
“For me, I’m very grateful that my family could lay him to rest and we have that peace. There are other family members who haven’t found their loved one yet and that’s why we’re here today,” she said.
Bob-Redstar started a red tie campaign to honour missing and murdered indigenous men last year.
“It’s to bring awareness that this issue is real and that we need this in order to make awareness happen,” she said.
“We want the red tie to be synonymous with what we are doing here.”
The province says it has a committee on missing persons with representatives from First Nations, Métis and community-based organizations. It also has an aboriginal resource officer program that assists victims and their families.
Opposition leader Trent Wotherspoon says the issue of missing and murdered indigenous men requires more scrutiny.
“We need a government to work with community partners and people and families to look deep into damage and hurt and loss of men across the province,” he said.
Whitedeer wants the provincial government to acknowledge what she calls the forgotten voices of indigenous men. She’s also worried about the future of her two young boys.
“I want my boys to have a future where they’re not going to end up in a ditch somewhere,” Whitedeer said.
“It’s about building awareness and for Saskatchewan to wake up and say yes, we do have a problem.”
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