Debates of the Senate  
2nd Session, 41st Parliament, Volume 149, Issue 107
  Thursday, December 11, 2014
 
Statement: Rinelle Harper

 

Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, on Tuesday, December 9, 2014, the Assembly of First Nations kicked off their Special Chiefs Assembly in Winnipeg, Manitoba. As you know, Chief Perry Bellegarde from Saskatchewan was elected as the new national chief. Also, the first day of the assembly was quite remarkable for the courage of a 16-year-old Aboriginal girl, Rinelle Harper.

As honourable senators know, in November Rinelle was violently attacked, sexually assaulted and left for dead at the side of the Assiniboine River in Winnipeg. She was later found and remarkably survived this violent attack. Two men are now charged with sexual assault and attempted murder in this case. Her words to the assembly were powerful, and I would like to read them into the record.

I am Rinelle Harper, and I am from the Garden Hill First Nation. I am here to talk about an end to violence against young (aboriginal) women.

I am happy to be here today to provide you a few words on behalf of my family and I am thankful for the thoughts and prayers from everyone. I understand that conversations have been occurring all across the country about ending violence against indigenous women and girls, but I wish to continue to on with my life, and I am thankful that I will be able to go back to school, to see my friends and be with my family. Some of the people who visited with me have shared their stories of healing. I ask that everyone here remembers a few simple words: Love, kindness, respect and forgiveness. As a survivor, I respectfully challenge you all to call for a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women. Meegwitch. Thank you.

Honourable senators, I hope you will join me in congratulating Rinelle on her incredible courage and determination. I also hope that her words move all senators to live up to Rinelle's challenge for us all to call for a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women.