Saskatchewan·Special Report

Parenting First Nations children in a world of risk

Single mother Brandy Maxie is parenting to protect her children from the risks they face because they are First Nations.

Single mom Brandy Maxie knows her children face risks because of their race

Parenting First Nations children in a world of missing and murdered

7 years ago
Duration 0:58
Brandy Maxie talks about the fear she felt growing up because she was indigenous and the fact she does not want her daughter to feel fear.

Brandy Maxie said she vividly remembers the first time her daughter, Valyncia Sparvier, understood the danger she faced because she is aboriginal.

Maxie was at an outdoor fitness class at a school in Regina. Her three children were playing nearby at the school's park. A man in a red truck pulled up and parked near the children.

She said she watched in terror as the man tried to lure her young daughter to the car.

"Valyncia, she is so protective, so she immediately grabbed her brothers and went closer to the school building and was calling for me," she said of the experience.

"We had the discussion; sometimes people will follow you because you are a native girl."

Maxie said as her daughter grew older, she began to ask questions about what it meant to be a "missing or murdered indigenous woman". She was honest and told her daughter about the women they knew who were missing.

Maxie's cousin Danita Bigeagle went missing almost 10 years ago in Regina. And five-year-old Tamra Keepness, who disappeared in Regina in 2004, was also from their home reserve, White Bear First Nation.

"Your physical appearance, just being native, is going to put you at a higher risk for certain things than a non-First Nations person and that's just the way it is right now," Maxie said of her conversation with Valyncia.

This year, Sparvier wrote an award-winning speech about the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women. Initially the speech was an assignment for her Grade 6 class. Now, the pre-teen is speaking at events across the province, aimed at raising awareness about the issue.

Maxie said she believes it is important that her daughter learns to have her own voice, but she does not want her to live in fear.

"I have lived in fear. I have been a victim. I don't identify with it anymore but a lot of my parenting comes from my past experiences."

Read about how Maxie is fighting for a better future here: Fighting for a better future.

Read more on this story:

CBC Saskatchewan is taking a closer look this week at missing and murdered indigenous women cases in the province. We are exploring everything from how mothers are raising their daughters differently to the role men play in finding a solution to what more needs to be done. 

We've also launched a way you can tell your story about how a missing and murdered indigenous case has touched your life. Share your story here


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