SASKATOON — During an emotional welcome by their families and friends on Friday at the Indian & Métis Friendship Centre on Wall Street, Krista Fox fought back the tears as she read close to 30 names of individuals who were either missing, murdered or suffered a violent fate.
Fox and Lindsey Bishop made their stop in the city after walking more than 1,600 kilometres, a journey to raise awareness on the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2 Spirit Peoples. They were coming from North Battleford.
They were met by their family and friends at the Saskatoon Shines sign on Highway 16 and from there the group of more than 100, including children, made their way to the city assisted by several officers from the Saskatoon Police Service.
Fox and Bishop are making their cross-country walk to keep the public aware of unsolved cases of MMIW2S like those of Ashley Morin, and the latter’s sister, Megan Gallagher.
They began their walk on Feb. 18, Fox’s birthday, in British Columbia then made their way to Alberta where they encountered several delays due to snowstorms and had to make several stops to rest and let the weather conditions improve.
They started their journey at the Mile Zero Monument in Beacon Hill Park, Victoria. Some of the cities or communities that they either stopped or passed by Nanaimo, Vancouver, Burnaby, Katzie, Mission, Squiala and Cheam First Nations, Edmonton, Calgary and Red Deer.
Fox said that despite the brutal road and weather conditions they encountered in Alberta, their journey had been amazing as they received a lot of support and love from the different communities they passed by.
“Sometimes the weather was washed out. We also dealt with a lot of road construction and there was no shoulder or side road to walk on. But even though we experienced those things, we did not stop and we kept ongoing. We’re doing this not for us, but to raise awareness on MMIWG issues,” Fox told SASKTODAY.ca.
“Those times we weren’t able to walk, it ended up working beautifully for us because a lot of the First Nation communities in B.C. had invited us where they held ceremonies and did amazing things for us. When we get to Alberta, Lindsey said to me, welcome to kick-ass Canada where we are going to get our asses kicked..'”
Bishop then recalled some of the extreme weather conditions they encountered in Alberta. It was still winter season when they started their walk and it was also during the final two weeks of February when several heavy snowstorms occurred.
“There’s this one day, where we had to stop and shut down for the day before we even started our journey. Then, there was another time that we have to end it early because the snow was blowing hard, completely whiteout weather and no visibility at all. In another one, it was too foggy to walk. It wasn’t going to work for us so we don’t want to risk it,” Bishop told SASKTODAY.ca.
Community leaders comments
SPS Deputy Chief for Operations Randy Huisman, who represented Chief Troy Cooper and the entire police force, thanked Fox and Bishop for their endeavour of walking across Canada to raise awareness of MMIWG2S issues.
“Their plan to walk across Canada to bring awareness to the MMIWG2S families, bring their concerns forward and break the silence because the silence is killing us. You are keeping memories of our lost ones alive. Your work is very important,” said Huismann.
“Stopping along your journey to speak in different communities continues to raise awareness of missing person cases and it makes us stronger as a community because in numbers we can demand change.”
He added that communities no longer want any more stolen children, sisters, mothers, brothers, or sons.
“We all matter and as a community, we can help to prevent this from occurring by showing people compassion, love and breaking the silence.”
Métis Nation-Saskatchewan Women and Gender Equity Minister Loretta King said the Canadian government must recognize Métis, First Nations, and Inuit women are disproportionately affected by violence.
“MN–S continues to call on the governments of Canada and Saskatchewan to work with us to change the conditions that lead to harm against our women and girls. We commend Lindsey and Krista for their strong commitment to raising awareness and furthering the national conversation on MMIWG,” said King.
Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Third Vice Chief Aly Bear said that it seems being an Indigenous woman has been dangerous these days as cases of MMIWG2S either remain unsolved or a new one comes up.
"The ongoing genocide of our women, girls and two-spirited needs continued advocacy as the issue is of the utmost importance to dismantle colonial violence that continues to harm and murder our people," said Bear.
"It is dangerous to be an Indigenous woman in this society. As a First Nations woman and mother to two First Nation daughters, I cannot imagine the pain the families endure. We stand and walk with each of you as we continue to pursue justice for our missing and murdered sisters."