Winnipeg Police charge 17 year old in stabbing death of teen girl

Winnipeg police have charged a 17-year-old boy with second degree murder in connection with the fatal stabbing of a teenage girl near a busy corner of the city’s downtown.

Police haven’t identified the girl other than to say she’s Indigenous, 14 years old and was living in the city.

“Every time I hear of another woman, girl, Two-Spirit, Indigenous person being lost, it’s very heart-wrenching, it’s heartbreaking because it happens too frequently,” said Heidi Spence, head of MMIWG Liaison Unit for Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, a political advocacy organization that represents First Nations in northern Manitoba.

Spence was one of dozens who gathered around a sacred fire in support of the girl’s family and friends.

“It’s happening too much. It’s particularly harder too because she was very young,” she said.

The boy is in custody.

Police believe the victim and suspect knew each other. They were together with two other girls around 1 p.m. on Dec. 15 – a block from police headquarters.

A Winnipeg police statement said an argument led to the suspect producing a knife and stabbing the victim multiple times before fleeing the scene.

“One of the young people she was with suddenly turned on her and stabbed her,” police Chief Danny Smyth said Monday during a news conference. “It was a pretty sudden turn of events … I don’t know the context of why it turned that way.”

Smyth would not release either name citing provisions to the Youth Criminal Justice Act that prevent police from identifying people charged or victims of violence who are under the age of 18.

Officers who responded to the stabbing found the teen in the entrance of a building and applied a chest seal while they waited for an ambulance to arrive, Smyth said.

“She was never left alone. Our officers stayed with her,” he said. “One of our officers stayed with her in the ambulance while she was rushed to hospital. He was present when the medical staff treated her in a nearby operating room.”

She underwent emergency surgery but didn’t survive.

There have been increased calls for the city and police to address safety concerns downtown. Smyth said the police service has increased its downtown presence and relies on community partnerships to curb thefts and engage with individuals living with addictions and the homeless.

“Although we weren’t able to prevent this particular case, our members were right there to provide assistance and render first aid within moments of the attack. So, our presence is out there,” he said.

At the sacred fire, the MP for Winnipeg Centre, Leah Gazan, said ongoing violence between Indigenous women and girls is a crisis that needs the attention of all levels of government.

“Our community is in a constant state of loss, we need more support,” Gazan said. “We also know that we need more mental health supports, addiction supports, more outreach programs for people in our communities, more safe spaces. We know all of that, it’s not a lack of knowing, it’s a lack of political will.”

The teen’s death is the 40th homicide of the year in Winnipeg.

With files from the Canadian Press

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