Connie Greyeyes spoke about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, in response to Conservative Candidate Bob Zimmer on CBC’s Daybreak North this morning.
Zimmer said on Tuesday night’s debate in Fort St. John that a ‘lack of a job’ was a big factor in the deaths of Indigenous women.
One of the major drivers of Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women is lack of economic activity – or, simply put, lack of a job. We’ve tried things to where we brings economic activity – or jobs – to reserves and other legislation to see that through. Ultimately when people have a job, they’re not in despair – and they can stay on reserve. That’s where we want them to be, we want them to be happy where they live, and go from there with their families. I know a lot of them don’t want to live off of reserve, they want to stay there – and I support that there. We just want them to live happily and healthily.
In response to Bob Zimmer’s comments, she said she feels ‘disheartened.’
“As a human being, and as a woman, and as an indigenous woman, I was hurt,” she told Daybreak North. “The families that have contacted me are hurt. I think that these families have been through enough tragedy and trauma to be traumatized over and over again in the media with off-handed comments from candidates like this. It’s so disheartening.”
Greyeyes is a member of the Bigstone Cree First Nation in Alberta, and lives in Fort St. John.
She was only 16 when one of her friends first went missing. Police asked for details and if she had seen or heard anything – but she never saw Stacy again.
“That really has been with me basically my whole life,” she said. “I’m 44 now. For two thirds of my life, I’ve been wondering where my friend is.”
In 1993, her cousin Joyce Marie Cardinal was beaten in Edmonton, doused with gasoline, and then lit on fire. Greyeyes said the damage was so bad, police thought it was a garbage fire at first, and were horrified to find out it was a woman.
Cardinal was in hospital for another three weeks before dying.
Stephen Harper has said no to an inquiry into MMIW, and Greyeyes was asked if funding towards smaller communities would combat this issue if no inquiry will happen. She said:
The whole talk about all these inquiries that have already happened – many of those inquiries they talk about have said that there is a need for a national inquiry. We’re moving funding from organizations like NWAC … Those are programs that were put in place to help Indigenous women. I don’t see how moving funding from anything is helping our people or woman, you know? I have to say, I’ve been pretty disappointed with the way things are going – this year, in particular. I had hoped that the national tragedy of missing and murdered women and girls would be on the forefront, really be on the forefront, and I really feel that it isn’t.
Greyeyes is now working for Elections Canada, working hard to get people out to vote for the first time.
“I think that the time for sitting back and letting things to happen around us is coming to an end. People are motivated,” she said in the interview.
“Elections Canada has done a very good job with sending people like myself out to the reserves and First Nations and really rally, and bump up the numbers for voting.”
She believes the issues at hand – such as MMIW – are helping inspire people to vote.
A Sisters in Spirit Vigil to remembered missing and murdered Indigenous women will be held tomorrow night at the Fort St. John Friendship Centre at 5 PM.
The full interview can be listened to through CBC Daybreak North here.