“It Has to Stop”: Vigil Held for Two Inuit Women Found Dead in Montreal

Mourners Call to End the Abuse of Indigenous Women in Ci

  • Ann Iseepapialuk (middle) and Bunny Paris (right) mourn the loss of their two friends in Cabot Square on Sept. 8. Photo Soroosh Irannejad

  • About 50 people attended the vigil for Siasi Tullaugak and Sharon Barron, the two Inuit women who were found dead in their Montreal homes in late August. The calls for action to investigate their deaths were punctuated by the cries of their friends in Cabot Square on Sept. 8. Photo Edward McCarry

  • About 50 people attended the vigil for Siasi Tullaugak and Sharon Barron, the two Inuit women who were found dead in their Montreal homes in late August. The calls for action to investigate their deaths were punctuated by the cries of their friends in Cabot Square on Sept. 8. Photo Edward McCarry

About 50 people attended the vigil for Siasi Tullaugak and Sharon Barron, the two Inuit women who were found dead in their Montreal homes in late August. The calls for action to investigate their deaths were punctuated by the cries of their friends in Cabot Square on Sept. 8.

The deaths were ruled as a suicide according to the police, however others suspected foul play. Sources told the Montreal Gazette that Barron Tullaugak were not suicidal.

“People are really upset by this, and really outraged by this, and they don’t want it continue, and that was witnessed by everyone today,” said Nakuset, the organizer of the vigil, and Director of the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal. “These are two young, 27-year-old girls that were forced off our land, we come here, thinking that it’s going to be great, and it’s not.”

Workers from the Open Door, an organization that provides services to the homeless, and low-income people of downtown Montreal, were in attendance to mourn the loss of the two women.

David Chapman, acting director of the Open Door, said society needs to act and “bring an end to these types of tragedies.”

The eulogies from Barron’s and Tullaugak’s friends ended on a plea for help to stop the abuse that Indigenous women have to face in the city.

“It has to stop,” speakers and attendees repeated.

Nakuset said that vigils like this are needed so that people can have a space to express their feelings.

With the ambiguity surrounding their causes of death, and the lack of action from the Montreal police, there is lingering sense of fear amongst homeless Indigenous people.

“Everyone kind of feels like they can be the next person,” said Timothy Armstrong, an announcer for the CKRK Radio station in Kahnawake. “There’s already a feeling of mistrust in the air, so now imagine that this is going to be amplified.”

“People are scared that there might be a serial killer out there, and there might be because people aren’t doing their jobs to find out,” Nakuset said.

The Canadian government has opened up a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women, but some argue that more has to be done in order to achieve true justice for those who seemed to have been forgotten by society.

Sterling Downey, Verdun councillor and Projet Montreal’s spokesperson on issues of homelessness, said that he deals with many cases that involve First Nations people in crises.

“We’ve got to figure out of way to provide resources around the clock for communities, for people who are living in situations of vulnerability and who are being preyed upon on the streets,” he said.

Downey said that it’s not a simple thing to resolve, but there is need to address the issue and figure out a way to protect these people because the current system is failing.

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