The tragic story of Canada’s missing and murdered Indigenous women hit close to home during Unifor’s Constitutional Convention, when Local 651 Vice President Jo-El Cheekinew told delegates about the disturbing case of his missing cousin.
“Janaya went missing in April. She is a mother. She has a five year old daughter and we are very worried,” said Cheekinew.
22-year-old Janaya Wapemoose was last seen in Regina on April 7. Her family, friends, and community volunteers have combed the area for any sign of her but so far, they have turned up nothing. In June, the Regina police issued a statement saying it had conducted an extensive investigation into her disappearance and asked anyone with information to come forward.
Cheekinew works as a porter at the Delta hotel in Regina. He is new to the Unifor executive and this was his first convention. With support from his national union, he handed out flyers with a picture of Janaya at the convention hall entrance.
Cheekinew said he is hoping for the safe return of his cousin, and that much more needs to be done about the ongoing tragedy of all missing and murdered indigenous women.
On June 3, Canada’s National Inquiry on Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women released an extensive final report. It described the situation as genocide.
Some estimates have suggested that as many as 4,000 Indigenous women have been murdered or have disappeared over the past few decades.
Unifor remains fully committed to pushing for the full implementation of the recommendations of the MMIW Inquiry.