Jingle dress monument to mark 17 missing and murdered from First Nation in Manitoba

The monument is expected to be placed at the community’s powwow ground this summer.

A bronze monument will be erected this summer to remember more than a dozen missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls from the community of Sagkeeng.

It will also pay tribute to two missing males.

The idea is modelled after the fancy shawl dancer sculpture erected in the memory of young Cree activist Shannen Koostachin from the northern Ontario reserve of Attawapiskat.

“They wanted someplace that they could remember their loved one,” Lillian Cook told the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Tuesday.

“They wanted a place where they can go and grieve in silence.”

Submitted photo of the proposed sculpture.

Koostachin was killed in a car accident in 2010 near New Liskeard, Ont., where the statue honours her.

Sagkeeng, about 125 kilometres north of Winnipeg, has the dubious distinction of being home to 15 missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls – the most of any First Nation in the province.

That figure includes 15-year-old Tina Fontaine, whose death in 2014 shocked the country and helped initiate the inquiry that is hearing from witnesses in Thompson, Man., this week.

Cook said the monument of a female jingle dress dancer will also pay tribute to two males missing from the community. As well, she said raspberries, strawberries and blueberries will be etched on the dancer’s regalia.

“That was Tina Fontaine’s favourite – blueberry pancakes, blueberry muffins, blueberry everything,” said Cook.

Cook, who showed the inquiry a plasticine model of the soon-to-be finished product, said the memorial was conceived by a group of grandmothers she worked with in the community, as well as families of the victims.

She said sculptor Lionel Paychew cut his asking price in half to $100,000 after meeting with the families in Sagkeeng.

The monument is expected to be placed at the community’s powwow ground this summer.

Investigative Reporter / Winnipeg

Award-winning reporter Kathleen Martens covers western and northern Canada for aptnnews.ca. A veteran of the Brandon Sun, Sun Media and APTN Investigates, she is based in APTN’s head office, specializing in stories about property, women’s rights and community.