Indigenous women, girls’ lives are sacred

By Nahanni Fontaine, MLA for St. Johns

As published in The Times April 28, 2017

On April 8, we learned that the investigation into the disappearance of Christine Wood, age 21, is now a homicide.

I want to take a moment to simply say to Melinda and George Wood, Christine’s parents from Oxford House First Nation, how incredibly sorry I am for the loss of their beloved daughter.

I had the opportunity to meet with the Wood family and they are honestly one of the most humble, kind, compassionate and loving families I’ve ever met. From the moment Christine was stolen from her family, Melinda and George relentlessly searched for their beautiful daughter, day and night. Christine’s parents remained in Winnipeg from August to just before Christmas, and returned again to Winnipeg soon afterwards.

I met with Melinda and George just before they left for home at Christmas, and it was so evident how torn they were to leave their baby girl and go back up north. Simply put, Melinda and George are phenomenally courageous people.

I also want to acknowledge some of the many people that stood with Melinda and George throughout this nightmare: Christy Dzikowicz from the Canadian Centre for Child Protection; MKO’s Grand Chief Sheila North Wilson and Jennifer Wood; Oxford House First Nation; James Favel and the Bear Clan; the Winnipeg Police Services’ Missing Persons Unit; Melissa Martin from the Winnipeg Free Press; and, finally, Bernadette Smith, chair of the Manitoba Coalition of Families of Missing and Murdered Women.

Bernadette shared a conversation she had with Melinda recently: naturally, Melinda just wants to bring her daughter home.

Hundreds of people gathered for a family and community vigil in memory of Christine on April 12. Beginning at St. Mary’s Parish, everyone walked over to the house where the WPS believes she was murdered to show respect and support for the Wood family.

They then proceeded on to Thunderbird House to hear people offer their condolences, support one another, and share in a feast together. Meegwetch to everyone who came out for the generous support and care, shown to the Wood family, in this most difficult of times.

Finally, let me say again, Indigenous women and girls’ lives are sacred and are to be valued and honoured, and anything less is simply not acceptable.

If you would like to get in contact with me feel free to stop by my office at 1763 Main St., or email me at Nahanni.Fontaine@leg.gov.mb.ca. You can also stay connected with me on Twitter @NahanniFontaine.