One year after the body of Kendara Ballantyne was discovered, her family is still looking for answers.
They hosted a memorial walk on Thursday marking a year since her remains were located in The Pas.
The walk started from the University College of the North, where her body was found, and ended at the ‘Justice for Kendara’ graffiti under train bridge bypass.
The 18-year-old was reported missing early summer of last year and later found deceased on Aug. 6, 2019. She grew up in The Pas and was a member of the Mosakahiken Cree Nation.
“Kendara was small at only five-feet tall, but she was mighty. Her laugh was usually always funnier than the joke, she gave the absolute best hugs, she had the kindest heart, and she was incredibly giving even when she didn’t have anything monetary to give,” said Gloria Ballantyne-Packo, Ballantyne’s sister.
“She was always there to lend a listening ear and give support to her friends if they were having a hard time. She just brought so much joy into so many people’s lives. When she was around you, you knew that she genuinely cared about you, loved you and wanted the best for you.”
Ballantyne had last been seen in the afternoon of July 18 last year, walking down Cathedral Avenue in The Pas. The Pas RCMP and Major Crime Services have yet to determine the cause of Ballantyne’s death.
“Kendara’s death was not an accident. We don’t want her to be just another statistic of the many missing and murdered to be ignored. Which is why today, we are hosting a Memorial Walk to show that we are not giving up. As long as there is no justice, we do not have peace,” said Ballantyne’s sister.
“We live in a systematically oppressive society where we feel like Indigenous lives don’t matter. We don’t want Kendara to be forgotten, and we want justice to be served because she was taken from us so tragically. The walk is also to encourage other families to keep pursuing justice. For the other families, keep speaking out because your voices matter and the lives of your loved one’s matter.”
Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO) Grand Chief Garrison Settee attended the walk to express his condolences to Ballantyne’s family.
“I stand in solidarity with Kendara’s family, who has experienced every family’s worse nightmare. This is a tragedy for the family and I pray that today’s walk will help them find some healing in their ongoing journey of grieving their loved one,” said Settee in a press release.
“If anyone knows anything about Kendara’s passing, I urge you to come forward to the police and share what you know. Help bring some peace and justice to this young woman and her family.”
MKO will continue focusing on the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG) and Two-Spirit/gender diverse people. MKO has a liaison unit for MMIWG that has been instrumental in providing supports and connecting impacted families and survivors to additional resources in a culturally appropriate and safe manner.
“We must continue to work together in implementing the Calls to Justice from the Final Report of the National Inquiry into MMIWG. I urge all leaders and Manitoba residents to do what they can to create a safer province for our Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit/gender diverse people. We are all part of the solution, let’s work together collectively,” said Settee.