Women's Day march a personal quest for Winnipeg organizer
Survived abduction to become student leader
About 200 people gathered in downtown Winnipeg Saturday to mark International Women's Day. They started their march at Portage Place and ended up at the Union Centre on Broadway.
The day is a meaningful one for one of the organizers. Chantel Henderson said for her, the event was to advocate for and remember those women who have gone missing or been murdered.
It's an issue that hits home: Henderson was just 16 years old - the first time - she was abducted. As with other First Nation families who've lost loved ones, her family reported her missing.
"I just woke up in this strange room totally naked," she said.
Henderson said she was one of the lucky ones. She got away from her abductor.
"I just managed to convince him to let me go and I promised not to tell police," she said. "And I never did."
She said the incident marked her forever.
"It's horrible," she said. "You feel like a piece of meat, like you weren't valued, that you are less than human," she said. "That you were just an object to be treated and raped and taken advantage of. Treated like garbage. It isn't right."
Henderson said she broke free of the cycle that has entrapped many disadvantaged women, and is now a student leader at university. She feels it's now her duty to speak out for other women.
"You just feel in general, as an Aboriginal woman, like we have a target on our backs, basically all the time."
Henderson is also marching for her daughter, who is the same age she was the first time she disappeared. She's not the only one thinking of the next generation.
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Derek Nepinak also took part in Saturday's march.
"You know I've got little girls at home and I want to be a responsible dad and I want to do my part," he said.
Nepinak said he brought his own daughter, 4-year-old Meadow, to show her that change is possible.
"It's to create something, a broader awareness and maybe a better day for them in the future," he said.