Rounding up predators
By Valerie Taliman, Race-Talkcontributor (viaIndian Country Today), In honor of Women’s History Month and the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day on March 8th, ICTMN debuts Navajo writer Valerie Taliman’s new series on the growing human rights crisis in Canada where more than 600 Native women are missing or have been murdered. More than half of the world’s 370 million indigenous peoples are women, and for most, the world is a difficult place. Indigenous women bear the brunt of violence, war, poverty, homelessness, poor health, disease and a lack of access to education and employment opportunities. In the United States and Canada, statistics indicate one in three Native women will be raped in her lifetime. Aboriginal women in Canada are five times more likely to die from violence than their peers of other races. In the her new series, Taliman examines government policies that remove women and children from their homelands, force them into assimilation, and ultimately strip them of their rights to land, culture, and basic human rights. Links to her first series arehere: VANCOUVER – One day after memorializing the lost lives of 600 Native women, victims of a notorious sex predator spoke for the first time in front of the British Columbia Provincial Court. Under a light rain, they stood among families and elders, demonstrating at a bail hearing against a man they call a monster. Tearful and angry, five young First Nations women held signs and photos of Martin Tremblay, 45, who was charged in 2003 with 18 counts of sexual assault of drugging, raping and filming five unconscious Native girls, ages 13 to 15. Tremblay served little more than a year in jail, and soon returned to the Downtown Eastside to prey on more victims, including two teenagers who died last October after partying in his Richmond, B.C. home. The young women on the steps of the courthouse were five of Tremblay’s new and unknown victims, scared but determined to share their harrowing stories and demand that he not be released from jail. They came forward at the urging of Sister Watch, a joint effort by the Vancouver Police and a coalition of women’s groups that is asking victims to report new information about assaults linked to Tremblay and other violent drug dealers. Among those supporting the young victims were Kwakwaka’wakw Chief Kelvin Bee and his family, who traveled from interior British Columbia seeking justice for his niece, Kayla Lalonde, 16, the young woman who died in Tremblay’s home last fall from a drug overdose. Bee brought his family of young singers, their hand drums, and traditional songs to the courthouse where they sang for several hours, standing in support of the women. One young man stood out with his silent vigilance, quietly holding a photo of Tremblay. “He killed my girlfriend,” said Stephen Cain, 20, speaking of 17-year-old Martha Jackson Hernandez. “She was partying with her friend, Kayla, at Tremblay’s house and then they both turned up dead. He should be in jail on murder charges.” Richmond, B.C. Police have not charged Tremblay in the overdose deaths of Lalonde and Hernandez, citing a lack of evidence, but families insist the investigation was bungled and not given high priority. They accuse police of dismissing their repeated complaints against Tremblay and his associates.
On the day of Tremblay’s hearing, Native families packed the courtroom and lined the hallways awaiting his appearance at a bail hearing on charges of drug trafficking. As he was led into the courtroom wearing a red prisoner’s jumpsuit, he did not look at the victims and families who awaited him. Women at the back of the room called out “murderer … rapist” as he sat silently staring straight ahead, his face devoid of emotion, surrounded by three officers. One young woman, Alana Gauley, 22, began sobbing when she saw him, and had to be escorted out by family. “Martin Tremblay raped me when I was only 14,” she later said. “He gave me orange juice with the date-rape drug in it, and that’s all I remember. I woke up naked on his bed. He did the same thing to my sister and 10 other girls.” Facebook and Twitter!
Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu and women spoke at a press conference announcing Martin Tremblay's arrest.