Cree mother recovering from trauma of violent robbery in Winnipeg

Says experience reinforces negative stigma about Indigenous women

A Cree woman from a northern First Nation in Manitoba was the victim of a violent robbery in Winnipeg earlier this month.

Deena Gott was approached at gunpoint and then shot while walking in the city’s West End on June 18.

Gott worries everything from the shooting to her interaction with officers on the scene and with some hospital staff reinforces a negative stereotype so often heard of.

“There’s that stigma that Native women are nothing and they work the streets, and that’s not true,” she said. “The cops were continually asking me were you drunk, were you doing drugs, were you on your way to do drugs. Questions like that.”

Gott, who is from Chemawawin Cree Nation, was in the city to pick up her niece. She was staying at her brother’s place when she decided to go for a walk in his neighbourhood around 11:30 p.m. local time.

Gott says a man approached her and asked for directions.

“I was already on my Google Maps…he grabbed my phone and quickly took out his gun,” Gott told APTN News.

“I said, ‘Please no, give me my phone,’ and he shot me.”

Deena Gott
Deena Gott was shot in the neck during a violent robbery in Winnipeg. Photo courtesty: Deena Gott

The man shot Gott in the neck before he ran off. That’s when the 35-year-old was able to get help.

“I made it to my brother’s door and I just fell. I couldn’t even lay down. I sat there and I [told him] I’ve been shot,” explained Gott.

“My brother ran to me and he held me. Right away he stopped the bleeding.”

Paramedics transported Gott to the hospital. While she was in the ambulance she lost consciousness and didn’t wake up until nearly two days later.

The bullet entered through her neck where it miraculously went straight through and exited out her back, Gott told APTN.

She spent a week recovering in the hospital. She was unable to eat or talk for several days.

Gott remembers waking up slightly confused about what happened. She tried to remain positive and was thankful for surviving the shooting.

Deena Gott
Deena Gott spent about a week in hospital recovering from the shooting. Photo courtesy: Deena Gott

But the emotional impacts are still with her.

“In the back of my head this thing bothers me. As time progresses I realize now it’s post-traumatic stress disorder,” said Gott.

Gott is in touch with Winnipeg police investigators who she says told her they have collected surveillance from a nearby convenience store but they have not been able to identify the shooter.

Winnipeg police denied an interview request with APTN but they did say in an email they have not made any arrests and will be releasing more information at a later date.

Gott describes the shooter as a shorter, Caucasian male in his mid to late 20s with short, blond hair.

The male was wearing a black hoodie at the time of the assault.

The mother of four is out of hospital and recovering before heading back to her community. She is leaning on family both in the city and in Chemawawin during this time.

And, despite the traumatic experience she is ready to move on.

“I decided I’m not going to let this phase me. I’m going to use this to make myself better.”

Reporter / Winnipeg

Brittany joined the APTN news team in October 2016. She is Ojibway and a member of the Long Plain First Nation in Manitoba. Before coming to APTN, she graduated with a joint degree in communications from the University of Winnipeg and Red River College.