AMC Sends Condolences to the family of June Christine Johnson
May 17, 2023
Treaty One Territory, Manitoba
Treaty One Territory, Manitoba – The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) expresses profound sorrow over the untimely passing of June Christine Johnson. Although Winnipeg Police stated June is a non-First Nation, her case serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need for systemic reform and culturally sensitive service delivery to ensure the safety and protection of First Nations women in Manitoba.
Authorities confirmed in April that the dismembered remains discovered near the Red River in Winnipeg’s South Point Douglas neighbourhood last month belonged to Johnson. While her death has been classified as a homicide, no arrests have been made. The Winnipeg Police Homicide Unit, led by Sgt. Wade McDonald, is actively investigating the case. Sgt. McDonald has refrained from disclosing whether all of Johnson’s remains have been recovered and declined to provide specific details regarding the cause of death due to its sensitive nature.
“Cases such as this remind us that violence towards women is still a prevalent issue today. Furthermore, the overrepresentation of First Nations deaths due to violence is directly linked to the legacy of Residential Schools, the Sixties Scoop, imposition of industry on First Nations lands, man-made flooding by Governments, and ongoing colonialism,” said AMC Grand Chief Cathy Merrick, “all of which have resulted in the disruption within First Nations families, Nations, and support systems. To address this issue, it is incumbent on the Federal and Provincial Governments to provide adequate resources and support so that we as a collective work together to ensure that First Nations families and Nations are successful. This includes providing adequate housing, mental health support and access to education and employment opportunities.”
According to alarming statistics, First Nations women in Manitoba face disproportionately higher violence rates than the general population. That sends a terrifying message to our First Nations, expecting women to be hyper-vigilant and strong for their immediate families and their deceased loved ones’ family members at very young ages. Grandmothers are forced into repeated motherhood and must pick up the pieces to support their grandchildren who have lost their mothers. These systemic challenges require comprehensive and culturally sensitive solutions prioritizing prevention, treatment, and support services. It is imperative that the government support First Nations-led solutions to implement meaningful reforms to address these pressing issues.
The AMC stands united in its call for systemic change to ensure First Nations families’ well-being and prevent tragic outcomes like the loss of June Johnson. We advocate for culturally responsive services addressing the unique needs and challenges of First Nations women, promoting healing, empowerment and self-determination.
“Our thoughts and condolences go out to June Johnson’s family and loved ones during this unimaginably difficult time. We vow to honour her memory by tirelessly pursuing justice and advocating for a future where First Nations-led culturally sensitive support systems are in place to prevent such tragedies,” concluded Grand Chief Merrick.
For more information, please contact:
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
About the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
The AMC was formed in 1988 by the Chiefs in Manitoba to advocate on issues that commonly affect First Nations in Manitoba. AMC is an authorized representative of 62 of the 63 First Nations in Manitoba with a total of more than 151,000 First Nation citizens in the province, accounting for approximately 12 percent of the provincial population. AMC represents a diversity of Anishinaabe (Ojibway), Nehetho / Ininew (Cree), Anishininew (Ojibwe-Cree), Denesuline (Dene) and Dakota Oyate (Dakota) people.