By Judy Bird

On August 15, 2016, Colleen Whitedeer began a walk to raise awareness about the problem of missing and murdered Indigenous men. She walked 261 miles to her destination of the legislative building in Regina, arriving November 30.

Whitedeer started her walk in Prince Albert on the bridge where her brother Timothy Charlette was last seen. He went missing October 8, 2014, along with his girlfriend, Beatrice Adam. Adam’s body was found October 11, but Charlette remains missing.

Whitedeer’s mother, Elizbeth Charlette, walked with her the whole time, “except for maybe two days,” said Whitedeer.

Her long journey was not always easy. “It was discouraging. Many times I felt like giving up,” she said.

She persevered, and found support from Indigenous and non-Indigenous people along the way. Support came in many forms, from honking horns as people drove past, to giving money for gas, or wanting to learn more about what she was doing.

Whitedeer agrees that the problem of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women is an important issue, but does not want people to forget that it is also a problem for Indigenous men. “Indigenous men who go missing are often homeless and forgotten, and that’s why I came up with Voices of Forgotten Indigenous Men,” she said.

She is fighting to have the official inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women be made inclusive for men as well.

“I have a big task ahead,” she said, adding that she will continue to be a voice for them.

In a press release, Whitedeer noted that statistics from the Saskatchewan Association of Chief of Police indicate there are 162 registered cases of missing and murdered Indigenous people in Saskatchewan alone. Of those cases, 69 are Indigenous men, 26 Indigenous women, 67 are non-Indigenous, and 29 have been located.

“It is unacceptable and discriminatory to limit an inquiry of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls alone. Indigenous men/boys account for over 70 percent of total Indigenous murder victims in Canada. This does not include, numbers from residential schools, I can guarantee that if we include those numbers, we would see a drastic increase among missing Indigenous peoples in Saskatchewan. I would also like to make note there is a higher percentage of Indigenous Men who are missing among Indigenous Peoples,” said Whitedeer.

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