As the family of Danielle Nyland laid her to rest on Thursday morning, participants in a memorial walk for missing and murdered men and women paused to honour her memory before starting their journey.
Looking on from under the trees in City Hall’s Memorial Square were the sisters of a Prince Albert woman murdered earlier this year. Monica Lee Burns, 28, was found outside of the city in a desolate, snow covered area on Jan. 17. A man has been charged with second-degree murder in connection to her death.
Her sister, Sara Carriere-Burns remembers the quick wit and humour of a young woman who had dreams of becoming a veterinarian. “She just always had something to say, and was always funny.”
Support has come from within the large Burns family, and she said family members help each other when they’re down. They’ve coped by sharing their feelings with each other.
The Burns family continues to grieve the loss of the young mother, and Sara Carriere-Burns said the walk gives them support.
“Not only us, but all the families that have missing or murdered brothers and sisters and family,” she said. “It gives us hope that, you know, there’s awareness and that there’s so much support and that, you know, our sister was somebody and we’re … taking a stand.”
Carriere-Burns said they will get justice for their sister and for other families who have missing loved ones.
Monica Burns was one of the people honoured at the 11th Annual Honouring Our Brothers and Sisters Walk. Danielle Nyland was honoured at the final stop, and Krista Kenny was honoured at the first.
Before the walk, Kenny’s mother, Loretta Henderson stood among her family members wearing white t-shirts with Kenny’s picture on them. Kenny was brutally murdered in 2009 at the age of 16 by a man who was a part of a group she was with in a Prince Albert park.
Kenny was the first homicide of 2009, Henderson said.
“She was a beautiful daughter. Beautiful, smart, kind, loving, lots and lots of friends. We all love her and miss her dearly.”
Kenny left three brothers and her daughter, Shaniqua, who was seven months old when her mother was killed.
Henderson has coped by spending time in grief recovery, counselling, and speaking to friends and family. But it’s still hard. Something reminds her of her daughter every day, she said. Songs and colours are reminders of a daughter who loved to sing and read.
While Kenny was pregnant, she read to her unborn child and sang to her.
“Shaniqua is getting older now, and she’s been wondering, like, because I always told her, like ‘God wanted his angel back, so mommy had to go,’” Henderson said. Shaniqua, a small child with pigtails, stood, tucked under her grandmother’s arm, rubbing her eyes with a closed fist.
“So, now she’s older and she’s asking more questions and she’s getting to realize where we’re doing these walks for her momma and other ladies, these missing and murdered women, but I finally told her and told her her mom was murdered.”
Henderson said she had to tell her granddaughter about her mother’s death because she didn’t want anyone else but herself to let her know. She said Shaniqua understands and knows why they take part in walks such as this one now.
She spoke at the first stop about Kenny, and didn’t prepare a speech but planned to speak from the heart.
Walking amongst the families and supporters was Prince Albert Police Service Chief Troy Cooper.
It was important to take part in the walk because it is a community event and because of the recent reports about missing and murdered aboriginal women.
He said it’s also about keeping the national issue in perspective and making sure it’s on the forefront of discussions and to recognize individuals.
“And we talk about that on a national level, and when we do that, the people involved do statistics. And for this community, the people we’re talking about today are not statistics, they’re people we know. People who are our sisters and brothers and family members and so it’s important locally, I think, to take time to grieve and to start to heal over local issues, and for me, that’s what today is all about.”
On Twitter: @thiajames
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