Man charged with first-de­gree mur­der of New­found­land Indige­nous woman

Journal Pioneer - - ATLANTIC -

A New­found­land man has been charged with the first-de­gree mur­der of a 28-yearold Indige­nous woman whose death shook her small, ru­ral First Na­tion.

The Mi­aw­pukek Mi’ka­mawey Mawi’omi First Na­tion asked peo­ple to wear red Fri­day in hon­our of Chantel John, who RCMP say was killed Wed­nes­day evening in Conne River, N.L.

RCMP ar­rested her ex-boyfriend, 35-year-old Kirk Keep­ing, of St. Jac­ques, N.L., late Thurs­day.

“This is noth­ing random - they were known to each other,” said RCMP Cpl. Jo­lene Gar­land

Keep­ing re­mains in cus­tody after ap­pear­ing in provin­cial court Fri­day. Mi­aw­pukek Chief Mi’Sel Joe said Keep­ing was John’s ex-boyfriend.

In a state­ment on its web site, the First Na­tion said her death il­lus­trates the on­go­ing na­tional cri­sis of mur­dered and miss­ing Indige­nous women.

The First Na­tion en­cour­aged any­one wish­ing to show sup­port for John’s fam­ily to wear red.

Red dresses have be­come a sym­bol of mur­dered and miss­ing Indige­nous women in Canada.

Joe said the en­tire com­mu­nity is griev­ing for John, who was in her late 20s and a mem­ber of Joe’s fam­ily through adop­tion. He de­scribed her Thurs­day as a quiet and re­spect­ful per­son.

“Right now ev­ery­body is in a bit of a shock and the whole com­mu­nity is un­der a dark cloud try­ing to deal with this tragedy,” Joe said.

In a Face­book post, the First Na­tion em­pha­sized the im­pact of John’s loss on the com­mu­nity.

“Such vi­o­lence does not hap­pen in small, ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties. We are fam­ily, we are friends who are try­ing to deal with the mur­der of a young Indige­nous women,” it said.

It said her death “has hit home that the MMIWG cri­sis has no bound­aries.” “(Her) death adds to the grow­ing num­ber of Cana­dian Indige­nous women who are dis­pro­por­tion­ately af­fected by all forms of vi­o­lence,” the post read. “Over the com­ing days and weeks, we will do our best to sup­port and com­fort each other as this shock re­ver­ber­ates through our fam­i­lies and com­mu­nity.” Keep­ing is sched­uled to re­turn to court Jan. 30.

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