Murder charges have been laid in the death of a Siksika woman killed two weeks ago.
RCMP said 33-year-old Mardi Scalplock was found dead at a home on the Siksika Nation around 9 a.m. on Feb. 27.
Investigators have charged 41-year-old Barry Junior Yellowfly with second-degree murder.
Last week, Scalplock’s family held a vigil last Sunday for the murdered mother, who leaves behind a teenage son.
Mardi’s long-time friend, Doralynn McMaster said her death is a huge loss for the community.
“Mardi had a heart of gold. She had so much love to give, she’s a very cheerful individual — just so full of grace. She shared her love with everyone and she was never a ‘no’ person,” said McMaster.
Vigil attendees donned purple ribbons, a symbol for domestic violence.
“We are going to bring the world awareness — to the nation, to the world, to the communities,” said McMaster.
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“Because I know Mardi is not the only one that has gone through this. And I know she’s not the only one who’s going to go through this. We want to bring about awareness in her name and her memory and encourage everybody.
“We’ve got to put a stop to this.”
“It breaks my heart that we have to use my sister as an idol to move forward. But if there’s one thing I knew about Mardi, she would totally be on board for something like this.”
Mother wants justice
In a written statement to Global News, Mardi’s mother, Mildred Broad Scalplock said she wants justice for her daughter.
“Mardi did not deserve to die this way. This killer does not know the ongoing trauma and void this family will have to live with for the rest of their life,” wrote Scalplock.
“There is something that needs to be done,” Scalplock goes on to say.
“The thoughts that the family are feeling are to seek retribution to completely get rid of domestic violence in the community, and for those that have died from tragedies, such as Mardi, that their deaths do not get swept under the carpet.”
Scalplock said it’s time to make supports more accessible for the reserve.
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“A safe house in the Siksika community is required for families of domestic violence and support services for the abusers before it’s too late.”
The community has been pushing for an emergency women’s shelter on the Nation but has not received funding. Right now, women seeking help have to go to Calgary, Strathmore, or as far as Medicine Hat.
Former band councillor Marsha Wolf Collar has been leading the charge to help women leave violent situations. She calls shelters a lighthouse for women.
“If you look at the analogy of the lighthouse, it provides a beacon of hope — of shelter and safety, especially for the kids,” said Wolf Collar.
“A lot of these women have to leave the reserve to seek this help. And it’s very, very difficult to do that, very difficult to leave your community — to leave your home, to pick up the kids, to leave. It’s the most difficult thing. And so, for myself, I think we need to call on the government to really look at establishing funding for safe houses in the community.”
The province’s Culture and Status of Women press secretary, Amanda LeBlanc said in a statement that funding requests on Indigenous land falls to the federal government. But LeBlanc said there are provincial supports in place to help women in crisis.
“There is funding available for Albertans looking to leave a violent relationship. Alberta Supports helps cover the costs of personal needs, transportation, shelter and damage deposits.
“Alberta’s government takes the threat of domestic and family violence seriously, which is why we made a platform commitment – known as Clare’s Law – to help protect those at risk.”
Siksika Nation councillor Reuben Breaker said men in the community also have a role to play in preventing such tragedies.
“We used to be protectors and providers for our communities and our families. And it’s unfortunate that as we evolved and got more distracted by alcohol and drugs, we lost our role to be protectors and providers,” said Breaker.
“There’s resources there on the reserve, but our men have got to want it. They have to want to change… Once a person does, it’s contagious. Others will see it, and then others will follow.”
Meantime, Yellowfly remains in custody and is expected to appear in Siksika Provincial Court near the end of March.