A small group of Saskatchewan women is pressing for more national attention to missing and murdered Indigenous men.
On Wednesday, Colleen Whitedeer, her mother and two friends took a walk along Highway 11 near Regina. They carried a shirt showing a picture of Timothy Charlette, Whitedeer’s brother, who has been missing since October 2014.
“There’s an inquiry looking into missing Indigenous women but there’s really nothing about Indigenous men,” said Whitedeer. “In my research, I found there’s actually more Indigenous men missing than women: There’s 1,800. And I want to give a voice back to men.”
‘People think of women as more vulnerable and they are. They think of men as strong and so there’s a gender inequality.’ – Colleen Whitedeer
For several months, Whitedeer has been leading small walks along highways to step up awareness of missing and murdered Indigenous men.
Whitedeer’s brother was last seen at a bridge north of Prince Albert, Sask., with his girlfriend. They were both reported missing.
The girlfriend’s body was found in the North Saskatchewan River a few days later.
Whitedeer thinks police didn’t do enough to find her brother.
“He had two strikes against him: He’s Indigenous and he’s a man,” said Whitedeer. “People think of women as more vulnerable and they are. They think of men as strong and so there’s a gender inequality.”
Whitedeer hopes the walk will lead to changes in the way police and society views missing Indigenous men.
She hopes the current national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women will lead to a similar inquiry for men.
“I don’t want to be that mother in 10 or 15 years wondering where my son is,” said Whitedeer.