Saskatchewan

'Am I next?' campaign resonates with people in Saskatchewan

An awareness campaign posing the question 'Am I next?' is striking a chord with people concerned about murdered and missing aboriginal women.
This campaign was started by Holly Jarrett of Hamilton, Ont. She is a cousin of Loretta Saunders. She says she hopes the chilling words, "Am I next?" will frighten the nation into action. (Holly Jarrett/Facebook)
An awareness campaign posing the question 'Am I next?' is striking a chord with people concerned about murdered and missing aboriginal women.

Aboriginal women across the country have started to take photos and videos of themselves with signs that display those three simple words.

Holly Jarrett, from Hamilton, Ont., has been promoting the campaign hoping it will lead to a public inquiry on the issue. Jarret's cousin, Loretta Saunders, is an Inuit woman who was murdered in Nova Scotia in February.

"Her honours thesis at the time of her death was about murdered and missing aboriginal women and that will never ever go away from my mind," Jarrett told CBC News. "She was passionate about it and I don't want anybody to ever forget."

In Regina, Tracey George Heese has added her voice, and image, to the campaign. Her mother was a murder victim.

"In truth, attitudes in society towards Aboriginal women are that we are disposable," George Heese said, adding she hopes women of all races will support the campaign.

"I think if we come together as a unified voice others will become aware that there is a problem and we're all a part of that solution," she said.

A report by the RCMP, released in May, noted that aboriginal women comprise around four per cent of the Canadian population, but account for 16 per cent of female homicides.

Another Saskatchewan woman who has posted an "Am I next?" image addressed her message to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

"It's not an aboriginal issue, it's an all women's issue," Amber Shiplack said. "I think women are going missing and we need to do something about  it."

While some political leaders, including Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, support a public inquiry, Harper has chosen not to create one.

Jarrett said she hopes the social media campaign grows will change that.

"It tells me that people are listening," she said. "And I think it should tell Prime Minister Harper's government that people are listening as well."

With files from CBC's Adam Hunter

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