To recognize May 5, the National Day of Awareness for MMIWG2S and Red Dress Day, the Prince Albert Grand Council held a walk through downtown Prince Albert to raise awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
The walk was called No More Stolen Sisters and organizers said they wanted to stand together to support the families and communities impacted by MMIWG.
“It took a lot of teamwork, collaboration and people with the same belief and vision and value in supporting the survivors, the family and the communities of the missing and murdered Indigenous Women, but also the missing and murdered people as well,” said PAGC Health and Social Development employee Edith Kadachuk, who helped organize the event.
Kadachuk said they wanted to honour those who were missing and murdered, while advocating for support programs, and calling attention to the mental health impact the problem has on the community. She said it’s important to have community members and dignitaries call attention to problem, while also walking together and supporting each other.
The drum group Young Eagle led the walk east up River Street, south on Central Avenue and then West on 15th Street to Parkland Hall. At Parkland Hall, there was a prayer and bagged lunch and words from Happy Charles’ mother Regine Poitras and elders Sandra Sanderson and Wilma Schreder. The afternoon concluded with another drum group performance.
Happy Charles father Carson Poitras spoke before the event began and had a message of hope and prayers.
He thanked the RCMP for launching a billboard campaign for Missing Persons Month, and the PAGC for the assistance in putting up a billboard about Happy.
“Somebody came by from one of the churches I think and put some signs up and they said hope and that’s about the only thing a lot of families have,” Carson said. “(It’s) hope that some angel will come by and let us know where our loved one is.”
Carson said some people told the family to quit searching because the disappearance occurred five years ago. He said that’s not going to happen.
“If you had a missing person in your family, would you—could you—ever give up looking for that person? No, we can never give up,” he said. “We can never forget about our loved one. We can never let her name become forgotten. For every person that is here with a missing person say their name.
“Say their name, pray that an angel will come by one day to bring your loved one home.”
Carson said the family continues to advocate on behalf of other families who are in similar situations. He encouraged families with daughters, sisters and mothers who have gone missing to get their loved one’s name out there as much as possible.
“Every family should do it,” he said. “Get their name out there because then the tips come in. More tips come in, and we have had different tips come in after each time. One of these days, the right tip will come in and we will bring our daughter home.”
Poitras said that he had a complicated relationship with the Prince Albert Police Service but things have improved.
“I know with PA Police they head up the investigation,” he explained. “Kathy (Edwardsen) has been working with us and contacting my wife every week and our relationship is good, but at times we struggle. At times, we can be kind of at a loss because of the time frame that our daughter has been missing, but we can’t give up hope.”
New Dawn Drum Group performed a Creator Song during the event. The group was created by four of Happy’s daughters, although two had to stay home due to medical issues.
Carson compared the missing persons to a genocide against Indigenous people.
“We have to educate society that we are people too,” he said. “We matter. Our people matter, especially our girls, (and) especially our women. The women are the life givers for our people.”
Carson thanked the PAGC and Support Staff for putting it together and allowing them a chance to say a few words
New Dawn also performed the song “In my Dreams” which was composed for their mother.
As well, Charity Fleury spoke about her late daughter, Chase Pearl McCallum-Fleury who was killed at 10 months in August, 2020 in Flin Flon.
According to Chief Jonathan Bergen the Prince Albert Police Service has nine long term missing person files and the unsolved homicide of Jean LaChance from 1991.
The emcee of the event was Darrell McCallum and speakers from the PAGC included Vice Chief Chris Jobb and Chief Rene Chaboyer of Cumberland House Cree Nation.
Other dignitaries included Mayor Greg Dionne, PAPS Chief Jonathan Bergen, Deputy Chief Farica Prince and RCMP North Division Operations Officer Murray Chamberlain.
Also in attendance was Barry Wilcox Saskatchewan Human Rights Commissioner.
Lieutenant Governor Russell Mirasty spoke and also took part in the walk.
There were support workers in case the walk caused participants to be re-triggered by the event.