The We’koqma’q First Nation is banding together in the face of a tragedy that’s torn through the hearts of the tightknit Mi’kmaq community.
“You read it on the news, you hear it on the news and all of a sudden it happens in your own backyard. It’s very, very scary,” said John Sylliboy.
On October 24, the body of 22-year-old Cassidy Bernard was found inside her home.
When police responded, Bernard’s two infants were found alongside her. Both were unharmed.
“She did not deserve to be killed and taken away from her twin daughters, they need justice also. This is something that’s going to haunt us forever. This is something that no family or anybody should ever go through,” said Tyra Denny, Bernard’s sister.
We’koqma’q band leaders are providing a $100,000 reward for anyone who comes forward with information that leads to an arrest in the case.
We’koqma’q leaders say they want the reward to symbolize their commitment to seeking justice for Bernard and her family.
“We felt that as the leadership of our community that we have to step up and show that we’re willing to do whatever it takes to solve this case,” said We’koqma’q Chief Rod Googoo.
Nearly 300 people marched across the Canso Causeway in blustery weather conditions to show support for Bernard’s family, as well as the thousands of other missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls across Canada.
“We as Mi’kmaq people are taking a stand, not just our Mi’kmaq community but also non-Indigenous communities and raising awareness of the truth of the horrific endings that our woman and even our men are coming to face. Being taken away from this earth far too soon,” said Naomi Pierrard, one of the march participants.
Throughout We’koqma’q, red dresses are hung on trees, in windows and alongside the road, symbolizing missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls across Canada.
“A lot of support, you feel the support. You drive around the community see the red dresses everywhere, red ribbons everywhere. Young and old, young and old are getting involved, it’s amazing, just amazing,” Sylliboy said.
So far, police haven’t released many details of the death but say the investigation is well underway and once medical examiner results are complete, they will have more information to share.