Vigil for aboriginal woman reignites discussion on missing and murdered aboriginal women

“We will no longer be marginalized, and we will no longer have violence perpetrated against us.”

This was one of the many statements made at a Calgary vigil held April 2 in memory of Cindy Gladue, a 36-year-old Edmonton woman and mother of three whose 2011 death, and recent acquittal of her accused killer, reignited the conversation surrounding missing and murdered aboriginal women throughout Canada.

Over 100 people from the city’s First Nations and non-First Nations communities gathered at Calgary’s Courthouse Park to honour Gladue’s life and call for justice in her name. Many held signs that read, “No more stolen sisters.” Another read, “We will not be silent.” Another, “Cindy was a person, daughter, sister, friend.”

A condolence book was sent throughout the crowd for gatherers to sign.

Lowa Eebe speaks to the crowd gathered at Calgary’s vigil for Cindy Gladue on April 2. Similar rallies were held nationwide to protest the acquittal of Bradley Barton, Gladue’s alleged killer. Alberta prosecutors have since applied for an appeal to Barton’s acquittal on a first-degree murder charge.

Photo by Cameron Perrier

In June 2011, she was discovered dead in a hotel bathtub, having bled out from an 11-centimetre wound in her vagina. The court heard testimony that the injury was acquired through rough sex with the man accused in her death, Ontario truck driver Bradley Barton. However a medical examiner testified Gladue’s wound resulted from a sharp object. Barton pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and was acquitted on March 18.

Following a toxicology report, it was found Gladue was four times over the legal limit for blood alcohol content. Barton testified the sexual acts between him and Gladue were consensual, but many contested that with Gladue’s state of intoxication, she could not have consented.

Barton’s acquittal from the jury sparked outrage across the country. From Victoria to St. John’s, groups gathered to protest the acquittal.

Michelle Robinson, who organized the Calgary rally in Gladue’s memory, said the event was also meant to support all who have been touched by missing and murdered aboriginal women. She said the announcement that Barton’s acquittal will be appealed was a “positive first step that’s the direction we need to support and go on.”

Sabrina Levac, the Green Party candidate for Calgary-Buffalo, said the verdict would have been different if the victim had been non-aboriginal.

“That just disgusted me, for that thought to have to go through my head,” she said. “It really would’ve been a different verdict if it was me as opposed to a native sex trade worker.”

cperrier@cjournal.ca

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