Hundreds of people of all ages turned out at St. John’s Park in Winnipeg Saturday afternoon for the 14th annual No Stone Unturned Concert for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
The event offers a chance to gather in support of those who have lost loved ones, and to raise awareness around missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Manitoba.
“I wanted to come support my people,” said Tammy Letandre, as she walked with her daughter.
The kind of in-person support at Saturday’s event has been absent for the last two years, when the event had to be held online.
It’s the 14th year for No Stone Unturned, which was created in response to the disappearance of Claudette Osborne-Tyo, who went missing from Winnipeg on July 25, 2008.
Osborne-Tyo’s sister Bernadette Smith, told CBC’s Up to Speed host Faith Fundal on Friday afternoon that a goal of the event is to highlight the continuing void in families like hers.
“We know there’s people out there that know something … not only for Claudette, but for other families who don’t have answers about who murdered their loved one, or if they’re still missing, who’s responsible and where are they,” said Smith, who is also the NDP MLA for Point Douglas and the concert’s organizer.
Over the years, the event has grown beyond those who have a missing or murdered family member, she said.
“Now we see people from all over that aren’t directly connected, that want to get involved, that want to learn more about the issue and really want to do something,” Smith said.
Providing assistance for women
Several organizations had booths set up at Saturday’s event, focused on providing vital services for women and girls before it’s too late.
Stephanie Sanderson, of the North End Women’s Centre, said it was important for her and her organization to attend and show their support for the community.
The centre provides services for women and gender-diverse people, including drop-in and medium-term counselling, daily meals and a safe space for women and the community, Sanderson said.
There are many instances of people who were once participants at the drop-in later being reported missing, she said.
“So it’s huge for us to try to spread that awareness and try to help bring those people home and find them,” Sanderson said.
There’s also an urgent need for safe, affordable housing without barriers for women, according to Chantal Smith, program lead for tenant-landlord co-operation at the North End Community Renewal Corporation.
“We need it. We need it built in the hundreds,” Smith said.
Smith’s organization offers housing advocacy support that helps with tenancy conflict and anything else tenancy related — issues that are connected with the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
“If you’re unhoused, or if your housing is unsafe and it compelled you to… the streets or into unsafe situations — we have to acknowledge that as having a direct impact on why we are here today,” she said.
Transportation — another issue that can affect women who may find themselves in vulnerable situations — was the focus of the Winnipeg Boldness Project, which asked attendees to offer their views on the city’s transportation.
“People are living here, playing here, and so how is it that we actually move around in our community?” said Diane Roussin, project director for the Winnipeg Boldness Project — a Point Douglas-based group that offers a platform for the community to come up with solutions for some of the challenges the community faces.
Roussin said the data gathered from the group’s survey will go into a research study to help design solutions.