By Tina House
APTN National News
VANCOUVER--The violent death of a 22-year-old First Nations woman in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside has again sparked anger and allegations that police are ignoring the murder of women in this notorious section of the city.
Ashley Nicole Machiskinic, originally from Saskatchewan, died on Sept. 15 after plunging from a local hotel’s fifth-story window.
Police ruled the death a suicide, but Machiskinic’s friends say she was murdered over a small drug debt.
Seconds after Machiskinic crashed to the ground, someone tossed her shoes out the same window from where she fell, witnesses said.
“This was not a suicide, this was a murder,” said Delanna Bowen. “We are writing to demand that her death must be investigated by the Vancouver police department immediately.”
Machiskinic’s death comes on the heels of the launching of a public inquiry by the B.C. government to investigate why it took so long for police to catch serial killer Robert Pickton despite reports that women from the Downtown Eastside were going missing.
Carol Martin, who works at a local women’s centre, was there when Machiskinic took her last breath.
“It’s very emotional for me because I work down here and just to see that another person’s life has been taken away,” said Martin. “Where are we doing to get our answers from? When is society going to start changing its attitude about who we are as First Nations women?”
A vigil in Vancouver Monday to remember murdered and missing First Nations, Inuit and Metis women across the country ended with three arrests after a crowd marched to the police station demanding an investigation into Machiskinic’s death.
Machiskinic will be buried in Saskatchewan.