More than a hundred family, friends and concerned citizens of Thompson gathered on Nelson Road Oct. 23 to remember Bobbie Lynn Lee Moose of Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation (NCN), who was found dead in an overgrown lot a couple blocks from the City Centre Mall on Oct. 17.
Moose’s body was discovered around 5 p.m. that day and she was identified a few days later, after RCMP spent the weekend combing the area for evidence after declaring her death a homicide.
“We want to extend our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Bobbie,” said NCN vice-chief Cheryl Hunter-Moore at the vigil, attended by many friends Moose had come to know from the Thompson Homeless Shelter. “We all know that Bobby was a fearless and courageous woman.”
“Somebody knows who took Bobbie’s life away,” said NDP Churchill-Keewatinook Aski MP-elect Niki Ashton. “We must make sure that people know they must come forward. We know that silence kills. There must be justice for Bobbie and there must also be a call to end the violence against women, against Indigenous women. As a woman, as a member of this community, what happened to Bobby sent a chill down my spine. This makes people here in Thompson feel unsafe. It shouldn’t be like that. I appreciate that there’s an investigation going on and we must continue to keep the pressure and ensure that that investigation goes as it should but we know that sometimes these investigations might take too long. The pressure must go on. We demand answers and we demand justice for Bobbie Moose, for her family, for NCN and for Thompson, for all our north.”
Thompson MLA Danielle Adams said that statistics show that Moose was more likely to have her life end in violence because she was Indigenous.
“Indigenous women and girls are four times more likely to experience violence in their lifetime and 2.5 times more likely to have their lives cut short due to violence than non-Indigenous women and girls,” she said. “I am not prepared to shrug off Bobbie’s loss as an unfortunate random event.”
Thompson Mayor Colleen Smook said the city is working on its own as well as with the federal and provincial governments as it attempts to cope with a high number of violent crimes that have taken place in the community recently.
“We need to make our town safe again,” she said. “We will get this under control. We will take back the night. We will take back our city, our community, Nisichwayasihk, we will take back the whole area.”
Hilda Anderson-Pryz of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, who advocates on behalf of missing and murdered Indigenous women and their families, said the words of the politicians need to be backed up by action.
“This has been happening for decades,” she said. “We need to change that. We need to bond together regardless of our race or where we came from. Bobby was vulnerable, she needed supports. There were many systems that failed Bobbie. If those systems had been there for her we don’t know what would be happening today. We need to come together to ensure we lobby for those supports that Bobbie needed. If we don’t do that we’re going to continue having statistics, our statistics are going to keep climbing. When one of sisters falls, we all fall.”