Family calls for changes after young woman dies in Winnipeg rooming house

The family of Norma Andrews is calling for systemic changes to help women in need after the young Cree woman was found dead in Winnipeg rooming house over the weekend.

“I don’t want anyone else to lose their loved one like this,” Larry Andrews, Norma’s father, told media Wednesday morning. “The system needs to change.”

Those closest to the 28-year-old knew her as Bambi.

Family say she was a loving and happy person who was always laughing.

Winnipeg Police were called to a rooming house in the city’s West End on the afternoon of Sept. 21.

They are calling Andrews’ death a homicide.

In a release, police say Andrews was found deceased at the scene.

Family say Andrews’ living situation made her fear for her life.

“She had told us numerous times about concerns about the boarding house where she was living. People were climbing through her windows and kicking in her door,” said Amber Scott, Andrews’ stepmother.

“Norma was scared for her safety. She was scared.”

Police would not say whether they had been called to the address in the past.

“We do not provide information regarding specific addresses,” spokesperson Ally Siatecki wrote in an email to APTN.

Andrews was raised in Manto Sipi Cree Nation in northern Manitoba before moving to Winnipeg.

She was the mother of three young sons.

Scott told reporters Andrews faced struggles but attempted to access services to improve her life.

“Institutions and systems failed Norma. She did not have the supports she needed,” Scott said through tears.

“We can’t say for certain that improved services would have saved her life but she did seek out help several times in the past and was rejected.”

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), an organization representing northern Manitoba First Nations, has been helping the family.

Hilda Anderson-Pyrz, manager of MKO’s missing and murdered Indigenous women and girl’s liason liaison Unit, says the death of any Indigenous woman is felt across Turtle Island.

“When we experience a loss we mourn as a nation. Every nation is impacted when we hear that one of our mothers, daughters, sisters, aunties, cousins, friends has died as a result of homicide or has gone missing in an urban area,” she said.

Vulnerable women are being targeted, Anderson-Pyrz told reporters. She is calling on all levels of government to implement the National Inquiry’s calls for justice.

“We need institutions, governments and service providers to adequately provide supports and resources to Indigenous women and girls who are vulnerable right from our communities to urban areas,” said Anderson-Pyrz.

Andrews is the 29th homicide in Winnipeg this year.

Police say the investigation is on-going but would not provide further information.

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.