Indigenous group creates safety equipment library
A local group is hoping to deter predators by loaning out safety equipment for Indigenous women, youth, and two-spirited people.
Children First Society Executive Director Diandra Powderhorn says people considered at high risk of being abducted or harmed could soon get access to a library of safety equipment.
“Indigenous people are at a higher risk of being targeted,” Powderhorn said in an interview with CTV News.
She is collecting donated body cameras, door jams, and GPS trackers to loan out.
They will loan out some of the equipment collected on Friday after the Every Child Matters walk ends at the Manitoba Legislative Building.
“We do have a few cameras out in the community already for the high-risk members.”
Statistics Canada says six in 10 Indigenous women will have experienced some form of intimate partner violence in their lifetime. It says homicide rates are five times higher for Indigenous women than rates for non-Indigenous women across Canada.
The group is hoping the equipment will act as a deterrent for people considering harming Indigenous women, youth, or two-spirited people.
“We want to try to make a difference before these things happen,” Powderhorn said. "We are hoping that predators out there will see this and think twice."
Winnipeg Police Service Superintendent Bonnie Emerson says they engage with community organizations that search for people with unknown whereabouts or work with those who are vulnerable on a regular basis.
“You absolutely should not have to wait for something to happen for support but that’s again where police services partner with community organizations where there is safety planning,” Emerson said. “What we are doing is hopefully sharing information that empowers those organizations to work with the individuals that work with the women directly in a safe and trauma-informed way.”
Darryl Contois walks Winnipeg streets every day – volunteering to look for people out of contact with loved ones.
“This is our city. This is the city that we love,” Contois said, “We got to work together.”
He says many Indigenous people often turn to him when they lose contact.
“A lot of people would rather talk to somebody that's not a police officer.”
He says he will work with authorities and share information – but says his approach is what sets him apart.
"All it is - is about closure and helping that family find their loved one.”