AMC challenges the approach of the Winnipeg Police Department in suspicious death of Sandy Bay First Nation citizen Jaeda Vanderwal Treaty One
January 16, 2020
Treaty One Territory, Manitoba
Territory, Winnipeg, Manitoba – Grand Chief Arlen Dumas of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) decries the approach of the Winnipeg Police Department in the suspicious death of 22 year-old Jaeda Vanderwal, and calls on Winnipeg Police Chief Danny Smyth to intervene and direct his officers to properly investigate. Jaeda’s unclothed body was discovered on January 5, 2020, in a train yard located on Higgins Avenue by the Louise Bridge in Winnipeg. She was brought to a hospital where she died of severe complications shortly upon arrival. The cause of death was attributed to hypothermia despite evidence that points to physical and sexual trauma.
AMC Grand Chief Arlen Dumas said, “This is a tragic case that is reminiscent of the death of Tina Fontaine in 2014. It is absolutely reprehensible how First Nations women and girls continue to be mistreated and dismissed. The Chiefs of Manitoba through the AMC’s recommendations to the the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls proposed ways for Canada, Manitoba and the City of Winnipeg Police Department to change. Sadly, this has not happened. If our recommendations would have been followed, the approach to Jaeda’s investigation would have been different. Her family was dismissed by the police department and they were directed to talk to the Province of Manitoba’s Victim Services. Why was this handled in this manner? The family and AMC First Nations Advocate Office tried to provide the police additional information, but were also told to go to the Province of Manitoba’s Victim Services. If she was not First Nation, would Winnipeg Police Chief Danny Smyth support his staff to direct them away from investigating?”