First Nation man tracks mother’s killer
Son says 1976 death not accidental
A man from northwestern Ontario is on a mission to confront the person he believes killed his mother.
Gary Wassaykeesic from Mishkeegogamang recently received the official documents relating to his mother’s 1976 death.
The original coroner’s report determined the cause of Sophie Wassaykeesic’s death was "self-administered alcohol overdose."
Her son doesn’t believe it.
"As a kid I found out what actually happened and I went after the guy a few times up to the point where he almost got me," Wassaykeesic said.
Wassaykeesic said many people in the small town of Pickle Lake (formerly Central Patricia) told him who killed Sophie.
‘I promised this guy I would come after him’
"It’s a small town where everybody knows everybody and everybody knows exactly what everyone is doing and everybody knows exactly what everyone has done," he said.
At the family’s request police prepared an investigative overview in 2011. It reitereated the original conclusion that Sophie was drinking heavily and choked to death. But Wassaykeesic said police still haven’t talked to the man he believes is responsible.
Now he’s picking up the chase.
"I try to stay focused and I promised this guy that I would do this, I promised this guy I would come after him … to try to get some justice for whatever he did," Wassaykeesic said.
"He’s about 80 years old now. We’re going to finish this one way or the other."
Aboriginal women more susceptible to violence
The director of policy and research with the Ontario Native Women’s Association said there are a number of reasons it’s important to resolve historical cases of violence against women.
Lana Ray said if the concerns of family members aren’t addressed it makes it more difficult for them to move on. But she added it also has wider implications.
"It really just continues to perpetuate those negative ideologies of Aboriginal women that Aboriginal women are not important or don’t matter," Lana Ray said.
She said those perceptions make today’s young Aboriginal women more susceptible to violence.
"Growing up and seeing Aboriginal women who have been murdered or have gone missing, that doesn’t make you feel safe and secure in your community," Ray said.
Ray said there are 70 documented cases of unsolved cases of missing or murdered Aboriginal women in Ontario.