People rally for Dawn Walker as questions swirl around Saskatoon’s disappearance
People are rallying their support for Dawn Walker, the Indigenous woman who mysteriously disappeared from Saskatoon with her son in late July.
The disappearance of Walker and his son prompted extensive search teams in earth, air and water, as well as a prayer vigil and walk detained as persons fear for their safety.
The two were in Oregon City, Oregon, on Friday, but how and why they ended up south of the border after being presumed missing is still unclear.
Saskatoon police said Friday the couple were found safe after entering the country “illegally”, but few other details have been released.
People close to Walker say the fact that she and her son were found alive has been overshadowed by public speculation and criticism.
“Her situation needs understanding and compassion, and she needs to be heard,” said Kathy Walker, Dawn’s younger sister. Kathy attended a support rally for Dawn in Saskatoon on Sunday evening.
“[Dawn] deserves our support, rather than pointing fingers,” she said. “I think we need to look at the larger system at play here and how it has affected her by taking such drastic action.”
Dawn is a prominent Indigenous author and senior Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations official who has been described as an advocate for other Indigenous women.
The 48-year-old Okanese First Nation member was first reported missing to police on July 24 after friends and family did not hear from her – behavior considered unusual . She was last seen July 22 at a business in Saskatoon.
On July 25, police found his truck and other belongings at Chief Whitecap Park, just south of Saskatoon near the South Saskatchewan River. Police learned that someone in the area had found Dawn’s purse a few days earlier.
Emergency crews, community organizations and volunteers spent days searching for Dawn and her child around the South Saskatchewan River, with no results.
Kathy said it was an incredible feeling of joy and relief to learn her sister and nephew were alive.
“When we were looking, there were so many different possible scenarios that came up, and this one – finding them alive and healthy was the best, and nothing else mattered at that time. .”
Community members call for patience
Darlene Okemaysim-Sicotte said the joy was overshadowed by people using social media to defame Walker.
“We really needed the public to try to understand that in these complex situations, when someone with this kind of profile and abilities and this intelligence, that there is obviously something critical, critical,” said- she said, as she attended the support rally in Saskatchewan.
“We don’t know. But it was enough for her to abruptly leave.”
Okemaysim-Sicotte is Co-Chair of Iskwewuk Ewichiwitochik (Women Walking Together), a community group in Saskatoon that supports the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women.
She said people were angry at the resources used to search for Dawn and the emotional toll felt by people who feared she and her son had been harmed. The circumstances are puzzling, she said, but she urged people to be patient and wait for a fuller explanation.
In Regina, Joely Bigeagle-Kequahtooway posted an emotional video on social media after she also read backlash towards Dawn online.
“This poor woman is facing legal action and possibly the threat of having her son taken away, and what she needs is the community to rally around her and support her, her well-being. mental being, emotional, spiritual and physical well-being,” she says. “…the police and those authorities, they just weren’t there for her. And the question is why?”
An online fundraising campaign organized by Idle No More is underway to support Dawn’s legal defense. He raised $13,087 Monday morning.
Saskatoon police said Friday their investigation is moving quickly and more details will be released on Monday.