Good morning. My name is Shania Pruden. I am representing Elmwood—Transcona from Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Did you know that according to the Native Women's Association, indigenous women are almost three times more likely to be murdered by a stranger than a non-indigenous woman is? It's very difficult to take that in because it brings fear for many indigenous Canadians, including me.
A big thing that tends to happen is the negative stereotypes that these missing and/or murdered women get. Things like, “Oh, she was asking for it” or “Oh, she was a runaway”, and sometimes even, “She deserved it”. Why would someone say something like that? Then you stop and realize there are still people in Canada that don't care about equality, and making Canada a better and safer place for everyone.
I get scared walking home from my bus stop at night, but also when I'm in public, my self-esteem disappears. My parents told me many times that I am not allowed to take a taxi anymore due to the recent events that occurred in Winnipeg. Why is it still happening in 2017?
Something that I've never told many people is the reason why I dress the way I do, and the reason why I act the way I do. It's because I feel braver and more secure. If I was to dress more like a girl, people would know I'm a girl, and I'd likely be harassed for it. If I dress more like a boy, people won't bug me. They would sweep it off because, “Oh, it's just a guy”. Why should I have to do that just to live free from harm?
The biggest thing that struck me the most was the death of a 15-year-old girl. Her name was Tina Fontaine. Her body was wrapped in a bag and pulled out of the Red River. It's terrible because she was only 15. She wasn't able to experience graduating high school, getting married, or having her own family. She had her life stolen from her.
Losing a sister is hard. My older sister died by suicide, but my family knows how she died. Can you imagine the thoughts that these families have knowing that their daughter, sister, and/or mother are somewhere out there, not knowing whether they're alive or not.