Parents make 350-km canoe journey to raise awareness about missing son
Verle and Bradley Bushie from Poplar River First Nation greeted by supporters in Winnipeg
A First Nations mother and father canoeing hundreds of kilometres to raise awareness about their missing son and other missing and murdered Indigenous men and boys, finished their trek at The Forks in Winnipeg on Monday.
"We kept thinking about our son," said Bradley Bushie.
Bradley and Verle Bushie were greeted by supporters at the downtown riverfront park as they were helped out of the canoe. They had started their journey at Poplar River First Nation, nearly 350 kilometres north of Winnipeg, on Aug. 25.
Their son, Bradden Bushie, was 18 when he last seen in Winnipeg on Nov. 16, 2013.
Bradley Bushie said the wind on Lake Winnipeg was one of the biggest challenges of their nearly three-week journey, but also the constant thoughts of their son.
"We were being emotional all the way. That was our struggle," he said.
"During every day for us, we struggled. Same with the ones that are missing their loved ones. I know how they feel and they know how we feel."
Earlier this year, Verle Bushie started raising funds through raffles and saved enough money to buy an aluminum canoe, onto which they painted "MMIMB," for missing murdered Indigenous men and boys.
"It seems like there's not much people talking about missing men and boys, and there's not much media about it," said Verle Bushie.
"We're not trying to get attention, I just want to bring this into light. It's been seven and a half years already since my son has been missing."
Twice, the couple has walked from Poplar River First Nation to Winnipeg, in February 2016 and again in March 2020.
Cora Morgan, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs' First Nations Family Advocate, was one of dozens at the park to welcome the couple.
She said the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous men and boys is a "huge crisis," especially in Manitoba.
"Every life matters; there should be value for all lives," said Morgan.
"There's lots of men that are missing and murdered all the time, and it's really important that there's awareness brought."
She said she hopes to see a co-ordinated effort among families who are experiencing similar situations.
Bradden Bushie is described as five feet 11 inches tall, 148 pounds with black hair. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Winnipeg Police Service's Missing Persons Unit at 204-986-6250.