Winnipeg hip-hop group buys headstones for slain women
Memorials being made for Carolyn Sinclair, Divas Boulanger
Winnipeg's Most, a local hip-hop group, has purchased headstones to honour two aboriginal women who were killed within the past decade.
Members of the group recently ordered a gravestone to be made for Carolyn Sinclair, 25, whose body was found near a dumpster in the city's West End on March 31.
Winnipeg's Most has also purchased a memorial for Divas Boulanger, 28, a transgendered person whose body was found near Portage la Prairie, Man., in 2004.
Jamie Prefontaine, who is known within Winnipeg's Most as Brooklyn, says the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women hits close to home.
"I had an auntie who was murdered in the '90s, so I kind of know the feeling," he told CBC News on Wednesday.
The headstones are being made this week by Brookside Memorials.
Not just sex-trade workers
Sinclair and Boulanger had worked in the sex trade, and both went missing months before they were found dead.
Prefontaine said Winnipeg's Most chose to buy headstones for Sinclair and Boulanger this year to show people the two women are loved and were more than just sex-trade workers.
Sinclair was last heard from in December 2011, when she told her family she would be home for Christmas.
In June, Winnipeg police charged Shawn Cameron Lamb with second-degree murder in the deaths of Sinclair and two other women: Tanya Nepinak, 31, and Lorna Blacksmith, 18.
Boulanger was born David Joseph Boulanger but was known as Divas B., a transgendered street prostitute.
Boulanger was last seen in Winnipeg's West End in the fall of 2004 and was found dead in the bushes near a rest stop east of Portage la Prairie on Nov. 1 of that year.
In 2010, RCMP charged Theodore Raymond Herntier with second-degree murder in connection with Boulanger's death.
Will be an annual event
Winnipeg's Most won a number of honours at the 2011 Aboriginal People's Choice Music Awards, including best group and best rap/hip-hop CD for their second album, GoodFellaz.
Heatbag Records, the record label behind Winnipeg's Most, plans to make the headstone purchases an annual event.
"We plan on making it annual. That's what we want to do," Prefontaine said.
He added that more people should dedicate their time to addressing the issue of missing and murdered women.
"All I know is what we can give back as Winnipeg's Most and Heatbag Records. This is what we can do, you know, this is our part," he said.
"If everyone did something, it would slowly take the target off our people."