Relatives of missing and murdered Indigenous women hope national day of action spurs answers

It’s been more than a year-and-a-half since Jana William’s remains were found near the Red River at Alfred Avenue in Winnipeg — and her family is still looking for answers. 

Police declared 28-year-old Jana’s death a homicide in March 2021. 

Charlene Williams, Jana’s mom, said she hasn’t heard from the detective on her daughter’s case since May last year. 

“I’m mad about it. It’s like they don’t even care about what’s going on with our people, our women and children. They’re not doing nothing, they’re just brushing it aside and that’s it,” Williams said. 

The body of Jana Williams, 28, was found near the intersection of Main Street and Alfred Avenue in March 2021. (Submitted by Winnipeg Police Service )

In a statement to CBC news, Winnipeg police said families with inquiries and concerns should direct them to the homicide unit. 

Oct. 4 marks the National Day of Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQ+ people who’ve been harmed by violence.

Several events will be held in Winnipeg, including a vigil at the Manitoba Legislative Building over the noon hour. More activities will take place at The Forks, where attendees can make red dress pins, watch a fire-lighting ceremony at Oodena Circle and attend a feast and vigil from 4 to 7 p.m.

Williams hopes that on this day, somebody will come forward with information about her daughter’s case. 

“Somebody has to step up. Somebody out there has gotta know what happened,” she said. 

Raising awareness by walking 

Last Thursday, Williams walked 140 kilometres southeast from Eriksdale to Winnipeg to raise awareness about her daughter’s death and violence against Indigenous women. She completed her trip on Friday and documented her journey on videos posted to her Facebook profile. 

“To get justice for her, I want to find whoever did this to her,” Williams said.

Charlene Williams said her daughter Jana Williams was a thoughtful and giving person, who would always help her friends. (Submitted by Charlene Williams)

“She was my shadow. She was always beside me. We did stuff together and she was giving. She’d give you her last dollar, anything.” 

Williams said after her daughter was murdered, she resorted to alcohol to cope, but now that she’s sober, she wants to speak out. 

“Using and trying to block the pain — it was awful, that was really awful,” she said.

Family of missing woman asks for help 

Donna Bartlett also hopes the national day of action will bring her family some answers. Her granddaughter, Marcedes Myran has been missing since March this year — she was last spotted in Winnipeg’s north end. Bartlett is asking for the public’s help to find her. 

Myran was living on the streets before she went missing and Bartlett said she’s worried her granddaughter might be exploited. 

“People abusing her, abusing her for the sex trade, dying… getting hurt. I don’t know, right now I’m worried because we haven’t heard from her,” said Bartlett. “It’s scary. We just want to find her alive.” 

Donna Bartlett’s granddaughter Marcedes Myran was last seen in Winnipeg in March. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

Bartlett said Myran’s mother was initially afraid to go to the police, but just last week, they reported her missing. 

“I think she’s scared that they might come back and say she died or something bad happened to her, and she doesn’t want that,” Bartlett said. “She wants her daughter just to show up at her door again… that’s what she was waiting for.” 

The family has been plastering posters of Myran’s picture all over the city as part of their search. 

Marcedes Myran, 26, has dark brown hair and eyes, is five feet four inches tall and weighs about 110 pounds. Anyone with information about her is asked to contact Winnipeg police. ( Tyson Koschik/CBC)

“I just think about her all the time. No matter where I go, I drive around. I look, watch the streets,” said Bartlett. “I just want to find her.” 

Myran, 26, has dark brown hair and eyes, is five feet four inches tall and weighs about 110 pounds. Bartlett is asking anyone with information to contact Winnipeg police.