Murder at God's Lake renews call for public inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women

By Kenneth Jackson
APTN National News
Leah Anderson was on her way to go skating at the arena in God’s Lake Narrows First Nation when she vanished in January.

Two days later her disfigured body was found on a busy walking trail.

The 15-year-old Cree girl had been murdered.

Initial reports suggested she’d been mauled by wild dogs.

A few days later an autopsy would confirm someone had killed her in the remote community about 570 km northeast of Winnipeg.

“You can just imagine how gruesome that was. I play that in my head,” said Anderson’s aunt Patty Duke MacDonald Thursday.

The band posted a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest this week said MacDonald.

Anderson is the poster child of why there needs to be a national inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls, said her aunt.

Calls for an inquiry have fallen on deaf ears within the Conservative government who refuse to pay for one.

That hasn’t stopped others from trying to make it happen.

Just yesterday Aboriginal affairs ministers from the provinces and territories agreed to pressure Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

They met in Winnipeg and, together, will write a letter asking for an inquiry.

It’s something just a few months ago they didn’t want to do. British Columbia is the only province who didn’t join their counterparts in the request.

The president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada was in Winnipeg and said the agreement came after a few hours of negotiations.

Michele Audette was there because she’s pushing for a public inquiry.

“I told them I never give up and will make sure they follow their words to do what they said,” said Audette. “It’s a step. There are many things that need to be done. Never give up. Never bend.”

It’s the first time provincial and territorial leaders have jointly asked for an inquiry. They’ve been meeting as a working group.

There are more than 600 missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls across the country according to NWAC who did a comprehensive study a couple years ago.

The numbers keep adding up.

“We jointly call upon the federal government to call a national inquiry into this matter of missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls,” said Manitoba’s Aboriginal Affairs Minister Eric Robinson to the media on Wednesday. “This is a really significant move.”

Robinson is the chairman of the working group and will mail the letter to Harper.

A public inquiry once again was mentioned in Question Period on Parliament Hill Thursday. The NDP and Liberal parties support one.

They have to look no further than the case of Anderson as to why there needs to be one.

Her father was murdered in 2003 in Thompson, Man.

Her mother struggles with addictions and lost custody of her kids, including Anderson.

That’s why she was living with family in God’s Lake.

But last year started to go to school off-reserve in Cranberry Portage, Man.

Anderson was home for the Christmas holidays. She left to go skating Jan. 4.

The day she was found on Jan. 6 she was to fly back. School only goes to Grade 9 in God’s Lake.

MacDonald said the community has about 1,500 people and at the time of the death the ice roads were closed.

The only way in or out was to fly.

She’s convinced the killer, or killers, live there.

“What bothers me is how they have no leads. They have nothing. It’s only 1,500 people who live in the community. Whoever did this is still in the community. The roads were closed. You know it wasn’t an outsider,” said MacDonald.

The RCMP told APTN National News the case remains open and is active.

MacDonald said it’s believed Anderson was dumped on the trail where she was found.

“They couldn’t identity her. You know someone had blood on them. Why would someone hide this?” she said.

Police were able to confirm it was Anderson by doing a head count of the community.

Anderson was the only person missing.

“It’s just awful because it’s my brother’s baby girl. It’s just devastated us,” she said. “She was already a victim. She was only five when her father was murdered. Then to lose her mom.”

Anderson was a happy teenaged girl.

She had been picked to be a youth chief. Last summer she won a singing contest.

“She was really big into our traditions,” said MacDonald. “She just loved the culture.”

Anderson was given a traditional Cree funeral.

A couple days before her murder Anderson updated her status on Facebook.

She wrote: “Shine bright like a diamond.”

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