Back to Top

Prayers for the Missing

In my email to the editor of Do Justice, I asked, ‘How can I talk about how our bodies are disposed of in the dump or in the river and without being blunt, crude, disrespectful or violently graphic about it?’  I am not exaggerating. This is happening way too often. We Indigenous women are being murdered, then denied proper funerals (left in a landfill and in the rivers) and our families are left with no ceremony to help heal from the violent death of our loved ones. Our legal system hasn’t provided the justice balm needed to move beyond grief.

As an Indigenous woman in Manitoba I can’t avoid these questions and I can’t do nothing.  The cries for justice are many.  

On July 11, a Winnipeg judge, Judge Joyal, will deliver his verdict on the Skibicki trial. Jeremy Skibicki confessed to the murder of 4 Indigenous women in 2022.  He put their bodies in garbage bins.  He argued that he is not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder. The judge is to decide if Skibicki is guilty on all four counts of murder or if he does indeed have a mental disorder and finds him not criminally responsible. We need prayers that the judge can deliver a verdict that will uphold the sanctity of Indigenous women now, in the past and in the future. It is a lot to put on a judge.  We need prayers for the families enduring this trial and having to live with the knowledge of the pain and violence their loved ones faced at the hands of Skibicki. We need prayers for all the justice people involved in this case, as this case will take its toll on them for facing such violence. 

I don’t have answers to these questions but I do know that when we exchange hearts I can bear this burden better. 

In the early 2000s, there was another serial killer, Robert Pickton, targeting Indigenous women in East Side Vancouver. A few years later in Winnipeg, Tanya Nepinak went missing and it is believed her body is in the landfill as was initially confessed by Shawn Lamb.  Lamb also pleaded guilty for killing two other women Carolyn Sinclair and Lorna Blacksmith. We need prayers for this society to create a world for Indigenous women (and all human life) where human bodies are not disposable nor violently used.

It will be 10 years this August since Tina Fontaine's body was found in the Red River here in Winnipeg. And just three months after Fontaine’s body was found, another young Indigenous woman, Rinelle Harper was left to die on the banks of the Assiniboine river.  Back in 2014 I wrote about how going missing or being murdered is so routine that my own mother has told me that if she were to go missing, it wouldn’t be of her own volition.  I need prayers for the safety of my mother, my daughter, my sisters, my aunties, and my cousins.

We have reports and inquiries like " A Place Where it Feels Like Home: The Story of Tina Fontaine Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth – March 2019" and "Reclaiming the Power and Place: The Final Report of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls" to guide us and to make a difference. 

And yet I’m left like Job with lament and questions:  

  • When will Indigenous women’s bodies be treated with dignity? 
  • What can you we do so that this doesn't keep happening? 
  • How can we teach and instill in people that the human body and life is sacred and that all we do in our life should be done to remember the sacredness? 
  • What change of policy and or legislation can be enacted to address the immediate epidemic of MMIWG2S? And the long term health of society?
    • Will you read those reports and act do what you can on the recommendations? 
    • Will you advocate for those calls to action?  
  • When will we be in a time where we don't have to write about this?

I don’t have answers to these questions but I do know that when we exchange hearts I can bear this burden better.  So sit with me, question with me, uphold us in prayer, and don’t look away. We might go missing.

Photo by Zeke Tucker on Unsplash


The Reformed family is a diverse family with a diverse range of opinions. Not all perspectives expressed on the blog represent the official positions of the Christian Reformed Church. Learn more about this blog, Reformed doctrines, and our diversity policy on our About page.

In order to steward ministry shares well, commenting isn’t available on Do Justice itself because we engage with comments and dialogue in other spaces. To comment on this post, please visit the Christian Reformed Centre for Public Dialogue’s Facebook page (for Canada-specific articles) or the Office of Social Justice’s Facebook page. Alternatively, please email us. We want to hear from you!

Read more about our comment policy.