I am sending this request of Indigenous People to search the Manitoba landfill for the possible location of two Aboriginal Women.
While a difficult and expensive operation, I appreciate if two non-Aboriginal women were missing and possibly tossed into a landfill like garbage, all resources would be made available to find them so families might be able to begin to find a means for closure for their daughters.
I was born in Nelson House, Man., but fostered into homes at or near Winnipeg, becoming a “resident” of Teulon until I graduated.
I started at the University of Winnipeg but left as I could not find the roots of my own mindset that I was smart enough to get a degree, having been told I was “stupid” most of my life.
One day in 1974, I was going for an interview. I was smartly dressed. I had waist-length hair. On Portage Avenue, near The Bay, some men who I did not know yelled at me “Hey squaw, do you want to F—k?”
I gave them the finger.
The next moment, I am on the ground having my hair yanked so hard I fell to the ground. I was in the process of fighting off a kick to the head when they decided they should leave well enough alone. I can tell you that not one person helped during the assault or help me regain my footing to stand. These were the days when Portage Avenue was busy and vibrant.
I stumbled back to the university residence in despair. I slept so long and hard to forget my roommate at the time was trying to decide whether to call an ambulance.
It was not the first time I had been a victim of violence. Not long before, I spent an entire day with a person that I liked for the conversations. We went to his place to have some dinner and kept talking.
Eventually, the issue of sex came from him. I demurred, thinking that I would take time to make up my mind.
That is when the handgun came out and pointed to my head. This person was angry that women were trying to take control of their decisions of when to have sex and with who.
I complied with his demands. I left when he was asleep and walked to the residence in the middle of a dark Winnipeg night, fearful of clusters of men still about.
Did I report the crime to the police? No. The Winnipeg Police were fully engaged in racial responses to issues of violence against us.
As a foster kid that had seen five homes before I was five years of age, one home was incredibly violent. It is inconceivable that a child could think she could die at the hands of foster parents, those paid to look after your welfare. I lost my ability to talk at the time. Fortunately, my social worker recognized that I was suffering abuse and got me another home – one that I would stay in until I finished school. Yet the community was harsh. My little brother and I were shot at while we were home playing in the yard. We ran for the safety of the house, scared for the future and our safety.
After these issues, I decided to leave Winnipeg on the basis that I would not survive the violence against Aboriginal women and moved to Yellowknife in 1974. It was a great move.
The North gave me incredible opportunities from starting a legal services program to assist Aboriginal people in the system, being elected to city council and using my experience to work with the Department of Municipal Affairs to assist community governments. I became special adviser to the minister of Women. I was fortunate to travel to all communities in the day which I loved.
I am asking that you demand a reset of the racialized thinking that marginalizes us into poverty and death. This involves the appointment of persons that do not express racism.
Engage with Indigenous leaders, determine issues you are responsible for, work to change the racial thinking that leads to our marginalization.
If reconciliation involves searching a portion of a landfill to locate the bodies of two Aboriginal women, let it be.