CONNE RIVER, N.L. — A Newfoundland First Nation is grieving after the suspicious death of an Indigenous woman, saying it shows the national crisis has no boundaries.
The Miawpukek Mi'kamawey Mawi'omi First Nation identified the woman as Chantal John and expressed condolences from the chief, council and the community, describing the death as a "horrible act of violence."
RCMP said Thursday they responded to a complaint of suspicious death in Conne River, N.L., at about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, and police remain on the scene.
Miawpukek Chief Mi'Sel Joe said the whole community is grieving for John, who was in her late 20s.
"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," he said from St. John's.
John was a member of Joe's family through adoption, and he described her as a quiet and respectful person.
In a Facebook post, the First Nation emphasized the impact of John's loss on the small community and said her death "has hit home that the MMIWG crisis has no boundaries."
"Chantal’s 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."
Joe was in St. John's to speak with Indigenous students and other social work students when he heard the news Wednesday night.
He said he decided to stay in the city to talk with young people about the tragedy, and about action that needs to be taken to protect the disproportionate number of Indigenous women affected by violence across Canada.
Premier Dwight Ball told reporters Thursday he had spoken with the chief and expressed his condolences.
"Our thoughts are with the people in Conne River," Ball said. "It's really unfortunate and once again reminds us that sometimes [you're] just a minute away from a tragedy."
Ball said he plans to continue working with the community to ensure safety for everyone.
He referenced his government's ongoing inquiry into Innu children in care, expressing hope that such work will improve the lives of Indigenous people in the province.
The RCMP's Major Crimes Section and Office of the Chief Medical Examiner are investigating the death.
- By Holly McKenzie-Sutter in St. John's, N.L.