Seven Indigenous women from the Wood Buffalo region have been reported missing or murdered since 2004.
Additionally one woman’s death is considered suspicious.
- Elaine Alook was last seen May 2004.
- Shirley Waquan was last seen July 2007.
- Amber Tuccaro went missing in 2010 in Edmonton.
- Her remains were found two years later.
- Janice Desjarlais was last seen October 2010.
- Shelly Dene was last seen July 2013.
- Betty Ann Deltess was last seen in Janvier in April 2018.
- Ellie Herman was last seen October 21st, 2019
- Audrey Bignose found deceased outside a residence on December 25th, 2019
- Death considered suspicious by Wood Buffalo RCMP
Nicole Greville, outreach manager at Waypoints Wood Buffalo said that more needs to be done, not only on the current cases but also on preventing more cases from happening.
“I think that in a community like Wood Buffalo where we believe in diversity, where we believe in leadership and well-being and the health and safety of our residents that this should be really important to people.”
Several key actions can be found in the Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
The two-volume report outlines several Calls to Justice or Key Actions that need to be taken to increase the effectiveness of support services for Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people.
While access to safe spaces is a key issue, Greville noted that lack of transportation is another issue stopping Indigenous people living in our five rural communities from accessing key services like health care.
According to the municipality’s website transit buses are available four days a week between Fort McMurray and Anzac and Gregoire Lake Estates, two days a week to and from Conklin and Janvier and once a week from Fort McKay.
The report also calls on all governments to build new houses and start repairs for existing housing to meet the needs of Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people.
“If you don’t have a safe or a warm home how do you accel in school. If you don’t have a safe home or a warm home or, you know, a good home if you will, how do you get up and go to work every day? It just helps set the stage and the foundation for the rest of the things that we need in life.”
Board Director of Aboriginal Congress of Alberta, John Malcolm said that safe places for women in crisis is a huge gap in the system, noting women with addictions often have no place to go.
The report also notes a review done by the RCMP, which confirmed 1,181 cases of “police-recorded incidents of Aboriginal female homicides and unresolved missing Aboriginal females” between 1980 and 2012.
It also notes while statistics show Indigenous women represented 4 per cent of the Canadian population in Canada in 2016, they comprised of nearly 50 per cent of victims of human trafficking.