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Manitoba MMIWG advocate Bernice Catcheway in ICU with COVID-19, family says

Click to play video: 'Manitoba MMIWG advocate Bernice Catcheway in ICU with COVID-19, family says' Manitoba MMIWG advocate Bernice Catcheway in ICU with COVID-19, family says
A well-known advocate for the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls movement is one of the 17 Manitobans in ICU because of COVID-19 – Oct 14, 2021

A well-known advocate for the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls movement is one of the 17 Manitobans in ICU because of COVID-19.

Bernice Catcheway has brought national attention to the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls since her own daughter, Jennifer, went missing in 2008.

Read more: MMF adds $10K reward to find Jennifer Catcheway to help ‘bring their baby home’

But family members say Catcheway is now in a medically-induced coma and on a ventilator at Grace Hospital in Winnipeg, a little over a week after she first showed symptoms of COVID-19.

“We weren’t anticipating for things to change so quickly,” Catcheway’s daughter, Tamara Sanderson, told media outside the hospital Thursday.

Click to play video: 'Jennifer Catcheway search continues' Jennifer Catcheway search continues
Jennifer Catcheway search continues – Oct 1, 2020

Family says both Catcheway and her husband, Wilfred, began showing COVID-19 symptoms on Oct. 6 and tested positive for the virus three days later. They said the couple’s three foster children have also tested positive for the virus, but the kids and Wilfred are all recovering at home.

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But after fighting the virus at home for a few days, Catcheway was admitted to hospital in Portage la Prairie Tuesday and was brought to the ICU at Grace Hospital Wednesday.

Her son Willie Starr said he spoke to doctors earlier in the day Thursday, who gave him “a glimmer of hope”, telling him his mom was doing better than she had been the day before.

Read more: Manitoba family hosts fundraiser to continue searching for missing woman

He said she’s in stable condition right now, but is still receiving life support.

“I feel good that my mom is here and getting the care that she needs right now,” Starr said.

“But we’re not out of the woods just yet — it’s going to take some time for her to recover.”

Bernice and Wilfred Catcheway. Amber McGuckin / Global News

Jennifer Catcheway went missing on her 18th birthday. Her mother and father have been constantly searching for her since she disappeared around Grand Rapids on June 19, 2008.

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Since her daughter’s disappearance, Catcheway has been a well-known voice at Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls events across the country.

And while family said she had taken part in a rally held in Winnipeg Oct. 4, Starr says they don’t know where she contracted the virus.

Read more: Family of Jennifer Catcheway marking 10 years since her disappearance

They say Catcheway had yet to be vaccinated, but wasn’t anti-vaccine. They say she always wore a mask and was very careful anytime she left her house.

“She could have contracted it anywhere … we’re unsure why it happened,” Sanderson said.

Starr, who has been travelling back and forth between his parents in Portage and Winnipeg, says the family is holding up as best they can.

Jennifer Catcheway
Jennifer Catcheway, 18, went missing on June 19th, 2008. RCMP have deemed her disappearance has a homicide. family handout

He said the family has been grateful for the support they’ve received since Catcheway’s admission to hospital.

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“My mom has touched a lot of people’s lives,” Starr said.

“We’re being positive, positive thoughts, staying strong, sticking together and praying everyday — it’s all we can do right now.”

Read more: ‘It’s falling apart’: Family of missing woman disappointed in inquiry

Sanderson said the family isn’t putting her mother’s work on pause while she’s in hospital, and renewed calls for tips about what happened to her sister.

“If anybody had any information about our sister Jennifer, please come forward and still reach out,” she said.

“We still need answers and closure.”

— with files from Skylar Peters

Click to play video: 'Manitoba family hosts fundraiser to continue searching for missing woman' Manitoba family hosts fundraiser to continue searching for missing woman
Manitoba family hosts fundraiser to continue searching for missing woman – Jun 23, 2018

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