Red dresses are being worn and displayed throughout Conne River and across the province to honour the memory of Chantel John, a young woman killed in the community Wednesday night.
The Chief of Conne River was in the capital city discussing the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls even as one of his own lost her life under violent circumstances.
RCMP confirm they’ve arrested and charged Kirk Keeping, 35, with first degree murder in the death of Chantel John.
Sagimaw Mi’sel Joe asked the community to wear red to remember John, and all missing and murdered Indigenous women.
Joe says 28-year-old Chantel John was adopted by his nephew at a young age, but reconnected with her birth family as she got older.
He says she was well known in the community, and calls her a beautiful young woman who lived and worked in Conne River and as far as he knows never bothered anyone.
Sagimaw Joe was quick to point out that the suspect is not from the community.
He says aboriginal communities are often portrayed as violent places and that’s not the case in his town. He says this type of violent act is extremely rare in his community.
He thanks the “incredible team” led by Tracey O’Keefe, who have been helping people through the tragedy.
Listen to Mi’sel Joe on the VOCM Morning Show below:
Community Left Reeling in Wake of Murder
The town, reeling from the incident, says it proves that the crisis surrounding missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls has no boundaries.
One resident told VOCM News it’s like a dark cloud has enveloped the community.
Support services are being provided to those seeking help during what’s being called a very difficult time.
Support staff will be available at the Family Centre in the church basement today, while the Director of Education and school administration team has been working to ensure that support services are in place for students and staff.
Sagimaw Mi’sel Joe was in the capital city speaking to students on a number of Indigenous issues, including missing and murdered Indigenous women when the incident took place in his own community.
He said it’s like something out of a nightmare.
Joe happened to be in St. John’s speaking to students about the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls when he got word about the tragedy. He says he couldn’t make it in the storm but decided to stay to talk to students about what happened and why.
He says it’s important to understand why these things happen, what are the warning signs and how similar incidents can be prevented in future.
Premier Expresses Condolences, Looks to MMIW Inquiry for Recommendations Going Forward
Premier Dwight Ball says their thoughts and prayers are with the family of Chantel John, and the entire community of Conne River during this difficult time.
Ball says it reminds us that these things can happen close to home. He says it is really unfortunate and reminds us that sometimes it’s just a minute away from a tragedy within our community.
Meanwhile, the Premier says they have been working closely with Conne River and other Indigenous communities throughout the province.
Dwight Ball says there is no decision on any kind of task force into the death of Chantel John, but with the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls coming to a close, they will use the recommendations that come forward.
He says this will all lead to recommendations that they can put in place to make sure our communities are safe, especially for Indigenous communities like Conne River.