Family and friends of Rebecca Contois say while they are now mourning and grieving for her, they are also hoping that the young woman will be remembered for the loving person and loving mother that she was, and not for the circumstances surrounding her tragic death.
“She was loved by all her family and friends, she was a very beautiful person,” local advocate for Indigenous women and girls Darryl Contois (no relation) said on Friday, about 24-year-old Rebecca Contois.
Darryl, who is friends with the family of Contois and with her grieving mother, agreed to make a statement on behalf of the family, who have been asking for privacy since getting the horrific news this week that the Winnipeg woman was discovered murdered outside of an apartment block in north Winnipeg.
He said Contois will be greatly missed by the countless family and friends she now leaves behind.
“All her family loved her so much, and her friends that knew her said she touched a lot of people’s lives in her time,” Darryl said.
And Darryl said the tragedy of her death is only compounded because she now leaves behind her young daughter Rose.
“She was loved by her family, and by her eight-year-old daughter,” Darryl said. “And her baby girl now has to go on without her.”
Contois is now sadly one of the thousands of Indigenous women and girls who have been murdered or gone missing in Canada over the last several decades.
NDP MLA, and longtime advocate for Indigenous women and girls Nahanni Fontaine, said on Friday that she felt “sick” about the news of Contois’ death and that the tragedy shows how much more needs to be done in this country, and by all levels of government, to keep Indigenous women and girls safe.
“The National Inquiry unequivocally stated there is an ongoing genocide against Indigenous women, girls and two-spirited,” Fontaine said. “One would think there would be more urgency by government to respond. But since its release we’ve seen very little action or urgency.
“MMIWG2S families, Indigenous women and community organizations are still operating from within the immediate and critical crisis this is, and often with the bare bones of resources.”
In a media release, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Garrison Settee also expressed his condolences to those who knew Contois.
“Today I express our sincere condolences to the family, friends, and loved ones of the late Rebecca Contois,” Settee said. “My prayers are with her loved ones, and her entire community at this time.”
Settee said he also wants people to know that there are resources available for those who may be experiencing violent or abusive situations, or who have been affected in any way by the issue of violence against women.
“MKO’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) Liaison Unit supports families and communities who are impacted by the issue of MMIWG in addition to supporting survivors of violence,” he said.
“Anyone who needs to access support from our Unit can call us toll-free at 1-800-442-0488 or at 204-677-1648.
— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun