My cousin Loretta went missing the day before Valentine’s Day. She was studying the issue of violence against Native women in Canada — women like us, since our family is Inuit. I am devastated to say that now Loretta has become one of the women she was fighting to help. Because last week, her body was found in a ditch.
My family and I have been ripped apart by what happened to Loretta. She was only 26, and she had dedicated her life to stopping exactly this kind of violence against Native women.
Unfortunately, Loretta’s case is not unique. She is one of hundreds of missing and murdered Native women. This violence has to stop. My family and I are going to keep fighting to finish Loretta’s work.
There are all kinds of numbers about how bad and widespread this problem is, how Native women in Canada like Loretta and me are 5-7 times more likely than non-Native women to face violence in our lifetimes. But it was hard to visualize those numbers before. Not anymore. Now I see Loretta’s body, alone and abandoned by the side of a highway.
I was the person who travelled with Loretta when she left home for University. We talked about the struggles we face as Native women, how we wanted to break the cycles of violence. I joked that Loretta was going to change the world, but it wasn’t a joke really. I really believed she could do it.
I still believe that Loretta can change the world. I will not let her death be in vain.
I know that petitions have prompted government inquiries into violence against women in Canada before. Just last year, more than 300,000 people