Two weeks ago, police announced an arrest in the stabbing death of our first subject, Cherie Lynn Richard, and the case dropped off the radar of the mainstream media in town. That's when we accidentally stumbled across the bombshell news that crystallized the lessons of her death.
Deep, deep, deep within the story of the arrest carried in the July 27-29 issue of the free daily Winnipeg Metro was this stunning sentence:
"Police allege Richard was stabbed after a verbal altercation took place over drugs."
If true, it was a citywide scoop, something reporter Shane Gibson was obviously unaware of breaking.
We immediately started asking around to determine if a police source had actually made such a statement or if the reporter had jumped to an unsupported conclusion. To our utter astonishment, not only did we learn that Gibson had confirmation from the police in writing (if you can call email electronic writing) but the Winnipeg Free Press had the same information, and more, and had chosen NOT to publish it.
That's right. The newspaper of record which boasts of its journalistic integrity had made a deliberate decision NOT to publish relevant details of a shocking murder.
The FP, it turns out, chose to bury the drug connection as well as information that Cherie Richard suffered from FASD.
With these two pieces of the puzzle, we could now offer a series of observations about the latest murder of an aboriginal woman in Winnipeg.
And these lessons could be applied to the examination of all the cases of missing and murdered aboriginal women under our online inquiry.
Cherie Richard was by all accounts a true innocent. The information that she was an FASD baby explains why, at age 20, she still hadn't finished high school. And why she was easily led into danger by someone she trusted.
FASD is a huge problem in the native community even though it can be eliminated in a (baby's) heartbeat.
STOP DRINKING AND DOING DRUGS WHEN YOU'RE PREGNANT.
See how easy that is? Unfortunately, the native community is filled with women who are too stupid to do the obvious and with enablers who think that stopping stupid women from having brain-damaged children is judgemental and wrong.
The "Chiefs" should be in the forefront of fighting FASD, right up to insisting on the mandatory detention of women who refuse to stop drinking or using drugs when pregnant. Reduce the number of teens and young women with FASD and you reduce the number of potential victims by drastically cutting the number of people who can't make smart decisions to stay out of trouble.
The Fatal Stabbing
Its too easy to shrug your shoulders and say she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. How did she get there?
She was with her
The sister acknowledged there was an argument and that Cherie wasn't involved. If the police theory is true that the argument was over drugs, it means the sister, who should have been looking after Cherie, was actually endangering her.
The journey from drugs to violence is a word, a glance, an unintentional snub. Why was Cherie stabbed to death? Because she didn't get out of the escalating situation fast enough.
Enter the drug world, even as a bystander, and you maximize your chances of being a victim of violence.
The aboriginal community is the first to make excuses for drug dealers. There's always an excuse.
Poverty. Colonialism. Gangs are family substitutes. It's a family tradition. Blame the white man.
They won't fight drugs in the community, because that would mean assisting the police in sending more aboriginal youths to prison. And the Chiefs would rather have them selling drugs on the street. Until that twisted value system changes, the long list of missing and murdered aboriginal women will only grow longer, watered by the crocodile tears of aboriginal "leaders."
Cherie Richard was killed on a public street only minutes before the sun came up. There happened to be a number of residents and passersby who were awake and who responded quickly to the scene. That made all the difference in the world.
Imagine if the killing had occurred in a secluded spot, a park or a back lane or the basement of some crack house. No witnesses, no remorse. Only a dead body that has to be disposed of.
Cherie's sister stayed by her until police arrived on Furby Street.
How would she have reacted if Cherie had been killed in a crack house?
Call the police and admit you were there to buy or sell drugs? Bring the heat down on your "friends"? Or mourn quietly while others discuss how to get rid of the body and the blood?
A trip to a dumpster the night before pickup? A drive to the nearest riverbank? A visit to a reserve with a body in the trunk and the hope it fits the pre-dug shallow grave?
Nobody has a convincing reason to call police in that circumstance. Too many people on probation and parole who shouldn't have been there in the first place. Too many people carrying drugs, guns, knives. Too many people connected to gangs who wouldn't be happy to have police interrupt their livelihood and who would say so to grieving relatives. Too many relatives with their own secrets who don't want police snooping around.
So silence is the best policy. A little public crying. Some flowers and teddy bears at a memorial. A Facebook page. R.I.P. tattoos. But snitches get stitches, or worse. And calling the police won't bring her back, anyway.
Hell, in the thug life it's almost a badge of honour to know someone who has been killed. It's like a bonding experience.
Testifying in court? Not so much.
Until a true leader steps up to challenge the gangs, to denounce the deviant lifestyles that the aboriginal community accepts as normal, to point the finger at the enablers, nothing is going to change.
We need an Indian Harry Lahotsky.
Until then, we'll be spending millions sifting through garbage dumps.
(Related post from August 2011: http://blackrod.blogspot.ca/2011/08/are-tiffany-skyes-gang-links-clue-to.html )