NDP Critic for Women and Gender Equity Leah Gazan and NDP Critic for Crown Indigenous Relations Lori Idlout made the following statement on the 50th Anniversary of Helen Betty Osborne’s death:
Today marks the 50th anniversary of the death of 19-year-old Helen Betty Osborne, a Cree youth, who was viciously assaulted and murdered by a group of white men. Today we honour Helen Betty Osborne’s life and we extend our love to her family and to the Kinosao Sipi Cree Nation.
Helen Betty Osborne’s murder and the mishandled investigation into it was one of the factors that led to the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry, a ground-breaking investigation into racism perpetrated against Indigenous peoples in Canada.
There have been numerous reports, inquiries, and commissions since Helen’s murder half a century ago. But Indigenous, women, girls and two-spirit continue to be murdered and go missing at rates ten times higher than the national average. This was noted in the 2019 National Inquiry in Missing and Murdered Indigenous women and girls which made 231 Calls for Justice. These calls were clear and outlined a way forward for the federal government to stop this ongoing genocide. The Liberal government’s lack of action continues to perpetuate this neo-colonial legacy that has left Indigenous peoples, especially women, girls and two-spirit, at greater risk for violence.
Today, we renew our call for the Trudeau government to finally take concrete actions and implement all of the Calls for Justice from the National Inquiry so no other family has to live with the needless loss of a loved one.
Indigenous women deserve to be safe and live full and happy lives. We have waited for generations for justice and for safety. As we honour Helen Betty Osborne today, we demand action—not just words. The government’s failure to act is costing lives and it is time that the ongoing genocide against Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit ends for good.
Leah Gazan (Winnipeg Centre)
Lori Idlout (Nunavut)