Yesterday was National Aboriginal Day. For my part it provided another opportunity to reflect a little on the fate of one of my fellow Canadians, Helen Betty Osborne. She was only 19 years old when she was abducted off the streets of The Pas, Manitoba, on November 13, 1971, by four men: Dwayne Archie Johnston, James Robert Paul Houghton, Lee Scott Colgan and Norman Bernard Manger. They sexually assaulted her and stabbed her with a screwdriver over 50 times before leaving her in the bush outside The Pas. Yet it wasn't until 1987 that Dwayne Johnston was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. He was then released after serving 10 years of that sentence. James Houghton was acquitted. Lee Colgan received immunity from prosecution in return for testifying against Houghton and Johnston. He was never punished. Norman Manger was never charged. Osborne was Native, meaning that she was doubly discriminated against: once for being a woman and again for being Aboriginal.
I'm glad we have a National Aboriginal Day in Canada, and I hope that some day it will be a national holiday. It certainly means a lot more to me than Easter and Victoria Day. And the more we honour and respect Natives in this country the fewer deaths like Helen Betty's there should be.
© 2017 Alline Cormier