Missing, Murdered given voice

Roxana Wadhams has represented the North Island at two recent meetings on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

Roxana Wadhams (Wilson) has been given the opportunity to turn years of agonizing personal pain into positive change. On June 3, 1989, Roxana’s daughter Adriane Wadhams, who was just six years old, was brutally raped and murdered in Fort Rupert. Jason Kennedy, 15, was arrested, tried as an adult, and found guilty of First Degree murder on May 29, 1992 and sentenced to life in prison. Kennedy is still in jail, having waived his last parole hearing.

Adriane is one of hundreds of aboriginal girls and women that have been victims of violent crimes across Canada. A 2014 report by the RCMP concluded 1,017 aboriginal women had been murdered between 1980 and 2012, and that another 164 were considered missing. As part of his election campaign, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to launch an inquiry into the issue.

Since the Liberal Party took office, Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and Status of Women Minister Patty Haydu have toured the country to hear from family members about what the inquiry should look like. As part of this process, Roxana has represented the North Island at two recent meetings. The first was a three-day gathering in Prince George held from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2 which was attended by about 500 relatives who shared their stories with BC government officials, including Justice Minister Suzanne Anton, Public Safety Minister Mike Morris, and Aboriginal Relations Minister John Rustad.

The Prince George meeting was the result of a memorandum of agreement between the provincial government, the First Nations Leadership Council and Métis Nation BC to end violence against aboriginal women. Roxana attended along with about 20 others from the North Island who are relatives of victims. The families that attended were grateful to have the opportunity to “share their stories and give their loved ones a voice,” said Roxana, who took her daughter Samantha Pelkey-Wadhams and two of her grandchildren, 15-year-old twins Latisha and Isaiah with her to Prince George. “It was really meaningful for all four of us. It was very emotional, but it really brought a lot of reconciliation and understanding of one another in our time of grief,” she said. “To make something out of so tragic, and turn it around, and be a voice (for victims), that was really encouraging to me,” said Wadhams.

While at the Prince George meeting, Wadhams was invited by Chastity Davis, chair on behalf of the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, to travel to Winnipeg, Manitoba Feb. 24 to attend the (federal) 2nd Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.This sharing circle provided an opportunity for families to share their stories directly with Premiers, Ministers and National Aboriginal Organizations in a safe space. Roxana said that at the roundtable, as she listened to the tragic stories, she reflected on the broken promises that have been made by previous governments over the years.This time she believes things are different. “They are really listening and on the third day they said that they are going to follow through and even open up cases that were closed,” she said. “I’ve been on a healing journey since 2009 and to go to (the meeting) it was so healing for me,” she said. Roxana, who also suffered sexual and physical abuse as a child, has decided to turn her grief and life experience into an opportunity to help others. “I want to make a difference for them, for myself, and for their safety.” So at the age of 54 she has decided to go back to school so that she can counsel battered young women and youth, a significant milestone in her personal journey. “The 15-year-old that was so messed up has found herself.”

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

North Island Bantam Eagles ice Clippers, clinch Tier 2 league banner

“We will enjoy the moment for now, but… it’s back to work on Tuesday”

Upgrades to Port Hardy arena hinge on grant funding

The district is waiting on grant approval from the Investing in Canada Infrastructure program.

Scarlett Point lighthouse keeper wins a million bucks playing the lottery

“I usually just get a quick pick, so I didn’t expect to win a big prize”

Bradshaw’s Photo Highlight: North Island beauty

“don’t forget to look up and observe the beauty of the whole North Island”

LETTER: Miles put on the car causes North Island driver to reflect

“Up here in Port McNeill we are so blessed with nature’s tranquillity all around us”

Police suspect foul play in Cowichan Tribes death

Police are looking at foul play in relation to a death on… Continue reading

Hospital patient pleads guilty to dumbbell assault of nurse in Abbotsford

Neale Heath admits to assault causing bodily harm in attack last September

‘Epic sky palace’: B.C. businesses help create dream treehouse for boy recovering from cancer

‘It was kind of a bright shining beacon at the end of a horrible, dark tunnel’

VIDEO: Nickelback gears up for nostalgia tour

Canadian band joins Stone Temple Pilots for a summer tour that includes just one stop in Canada

B.C. teacher suspended for poking student in stomach, pulling another’s ponytail

Teacher also swore in classroom, used Facebook to contact students

Larry Walker Jr. and Sr. keeping expectations low for hall-of-fame induction

Walker needs 75 percent of votes in order to be inducted into Cooperstown

Gene Simmons to launch new Titans of Rock music festival in Grand Forks

The rock legend has partnered with Chuck Varabioff to run Titans of Rock in Grand Forks

VIDEO: 17 Husky pups rescued from Interior B.C. property find new homes

The BC SPCA caught the moment on video the last puppy, Uki, met his owners

Most Read