Piwapan hosts walk and conference to remember northern MMIWG

Valerie G. Barnes Connell Jordan/Northern Advocate The families of Happy Charles, Megan Gallagher and Sheena Billette. From LtoR: Kristy Charles, John Charles, Regina Poitras, Carson Poitras, Chief Tammy Cook-Searson, Gladys Billette, Willie Billette, Brian Gallagher, and Hailey Rose, Youth Chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indigenous Nations (FSIN). Front row: LtoR: New Dawn Drum Group: Marcia Bird, Ariel Charles and Aleisha Charles. Margaret Bird is the fourth member of the drum group.

Piwapan Women’s Centre hosted a Red Dress Walk and gathering on Sunday, May 5 to pay tribute to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women on Red Dress Day.

The conference was called The Power of Her Story and involved the families of three women who told stories of their missing loved ones, and how it has impacted them.

Regina and Carson Poitras shared their experience of delayed action, searching, learning and advocating for resources to support families in the search for missing family member.

Their daughter, Happy Charles, has been missing for seven years, since April 3, 2017. They have searched, spoken out, supported other families continually throughout the seven years.

They have been advocating for a resource office for families, because the story is always the same, when they meet other families.

They say there are too many gaps in the journey to find their daughter, and that’s a common story for so many other families.

Brian Gallagher, is a retired educator from Saskatoon and he shared his family’s story with the loss of his daughter Megan.

Willie Billette, share the pain his family lives with every day after the death of his daughter Sheena Billette, which has involved three years of court cases and learning the court is not there for families.

The Second day of the conference focused on service providers. NorthSask Victim Services, The Saskatchewan Sexual Assault Services, Metis Nation Society and a presentation on Ambiguous Grief, the differences in facing the loss of a family member. It is a unique grief experience.

The New Dawn Drum group provided the Welcome Drum each morning and at the closing. They are the are four sisters who have provided traditional drum teachings and music for several years. They are the daughters of Happy Charles.

The Northern Advocate will carry more about the conference in future editions.