RCMP have charged a man from the Siksika Nation in connection with the death of a 33-year-old woman from the community east of Calgary.
Barry Junior Yellowfly, 41, is charged with second-degree murder.
The body of Mardi Scalplock was found Feb. 27 in her home on the Blackfoot Nation.
Her death was deemed a homicide after an autopsy was conducted in Calgary. Second-degree murder carries a minimum sentence of life in prison with no parole for 10 years; it is generally a deliberate killing without planning.
The victim’s friends and family members allege intimate partner violence played a role in her death.
“In many ways, this could have been preventable,” said Scalplock’s friend, Dora Lynn McMaster.
“But my sister was one that sat in silence. You really had to push her to speak out.”
On March 6, Siksika members gathered for a vigil at Scalplock’s home. They said the community needs an on-reserve women’s shelter.
“We need a safe house; we need a place for women to go to seek help,” said Marsha Wolf Collar, an advocate for Indigenous women.
Wolf Collar said Siksika has a men’s shelter and a homeless shelter, but doesn’t offer the same resources to women.
“We are way overdue for a safe house in our community,” she said. “Our women have nowhere to go. Where they’re going is off-reserve and often times those are full to capacity.”
Siksika chief and council told APTN News a women’s shelter has been in the proposal stages for years but they have limited government money to make it a reality.
“We’re going to keep going,” McMaster said.
“My sister deserves the world, and we want to share her life with everybody just knowing that there was more to her life than this.”