Family of homicide victim calls for action on missing and murdered aboriginal women
Gwenda Yuzicappi is speaking out about the need for more action on missing and murdered aboriginal women, following news that a second family was the victim of a homicide.
Yuzicappi is related to Richele Bear. Police announced Friday that they believe Bear, 23, is dead and was killed by Clayton Bo Eichler who is now facing a second charge of murder. Eichler is already in custody accused of killing Kelly Goforth in 2013.
Yuzicappi is also the mother of Amber Redman, a 19-year-old woman who was murdered in Fort Qu'Appelle, Sask., in 2005. Redman had been missing for three years before her remains were found and an arrest, which ultimately led to a second-degree murder conviction against Albert Patrick Bellegarde, was made.
"Did we ever expect this? No," Yuzicappi said Friday after the man charged in Bear's death made his first court appearance.
Yuzicappi spoke with Richele Bear's mother, Michele Bear at her side.
"To have two of our family members missing --," Yuzicappi said, who was interrupted by Bear who added, "Murdered."
Yuzicappi said she would like to see an inquiry examine the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada.
We cherish their memories.- Gwenda Yuzicappi
Recently, there have bee similar calls for action when the RCMP confirmed it has files on 1,200 cases amassed over the past 30 years.
"There's more families out there who have loved ones missing," Yuzicappi said. "And they do not know where loved ones are."
She added the entire family is struggling with the loss of Redman and Bear.
"It's very difficult," she said. "We cherish their memories. And we talk a lot about them."
Erica Beaudin, urban services manager with Regina Treaty Status Indian Services, said Friday that at least five other aboriginal girls or women remain missing in Saskatchewan.
"We have many indigenous women who are missing and later found murdered in Canada," said Beaudin. "We will not rest until we bring our women home and ... the persons are held responsible for their deaths."
Praise for police
Meanwhile, the efforts of police were specifically praised by family members Friday.
"The police are doing the best job that they can," Michele Bear said. "They're supporting us very much. I want to thank the Regina police service for everything they're doing for my family."
Similar praise came from Maxine Goforth, the mother of Kelly Goforth who was found dead in 2013. Several months passed before a Eichler was arrested and charged in relation to her death. He is now facing two charges of first-degree murder, although police said the two victims are not connected.
Goforth said she was impressed with how police kept her family informed as their investigation progressed.
"Every step of the way they let us know," she said. "And it really made me feel good as a mother that my baby girl was important. She wasn't put on the back burner."
Eichler, 32, remains in custody. His next court appearance is set for May 23.