I hope that after reading this article you will remember her name. After watching the CBC Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women public forum on the National Inquiry thoughts and feelings arise as I travel through the confines of my mind. I have an aunt that died on March 19, 2011. They say of natural causes, but, I believe something else happened to her, there were too many odd things that had surfaced that were quite strange.
Margie was by no means a perfect women, she had her flaws and addictions; she also wasn’t in the best of health at 60 years old. she had cirrhosis of the liver drank a lot and indulged into some hard core drugs to escape the pain of her childhood. But she was by no means close to death.
She was and is still my favourite aunt, she will always be special to me. She watches over me, comforts me when I feel down, although she has left this physical plane she is very much a part of my life. She compels me to speak about her because she knows that I was once in a similar position as her, not health wise, but, more so the lifestyles we lived were more common than I like to admit.
We spent a lot of time together and when she became sick we became even closer. Something gave me the feeling that she knew something we didn’t. She would ask me to do certain things for her if she was to pass away. At the time, I didn’t pay much attention to her requests because I thought she was over exaggerating her health condition. We spoke every day and she would make time to spend with my son and always kept her promises to him. Needless to say she was his favourite aunt too.
One day Margie had planned to spend the afternoon with my son during March break that she would pick my son up and go on “their adventure”. That day came and went with no call or text message from her. This was odd to me because she always answers my calls no matter how messed up she would get. She would at least let me know that she couldn’t make it. This was a Friday. Saturday I called and left several messages for her to return my call and no response. Finally on the Sunday I kept calling repeatedly and finally her boyfriend answered.
I had asked, “what had happened to her she had made plans with Daniel but we never heard from her?’.
He responded, “she is not here”.
“Where is she?” I asked.
“At the hospital” he responded.
I quickly responded “What hospital I will go see her!”
He told me not to bother because she is DEAD. There was a long silence and I said thank you for letting me know, I will let the rest of the family know and we will be in touch again soon.
I was in shock that she was gone. Just like that. No phone call that she was in the hospital and no phone call that she had died in the hospital. This seemed odd to me but we carried on to prepare her for her journey through the Western door. The Ceremony was a closed casket, the funeral director told us that she was unrecognisable and it may startle some folks, that only the close family members who were preparing her body could open the casket.
He was right she had swelled up like a balloon and she had no shoes on her feet. Anishnawbe people always send spirits home with the proper necessities to make the four day journey. As myself, my 2 aunts, my mother, and traditional helper prepared the body it was truly an honour to be a part of that ceremony. But I noticed that she had a dress on that she never wore before and would not be caught in something like that alive. It was an old black laced dress, the ones that look like doilies that you cover your coffee table with. My aunt had noticed that I had an odd look on my face, she knew what I was thinking – why is she in this dress? – My aunt said, “I know, I went to her house yesterday and Ronnie had gotten rid of all of her stuff, he threw it away. The Funeral Director donated the dress for her because she came to the funeral home with nothing. we completed preparing the body and began to gather in the room for the ceremony.
There was so many people there I did not know she had so many friends. There were drummers and singers, prayer and a chance to say some last words. Daniel only 6 years old at the time was a brave little soul, he got up there by himself and shared his heart with the room. How much he loved her and how sad he was that he would never be able to go on adventures with his Auntie Margie. The whole room filled with tears as he poured his little heart out. The service was beautiful and she left in a good way. At the end of the service, Ronnie finally showed up to pay his condolences. He gave my son an Elephant that was Margie’s and told him he should keep this and left. He never went to the casket, spoke with the family, or said any last words; and after this day we never saw or heard from him again.
As the days and weeks passed I would replay what had happened from the time I found out she was dead until the end of the funeral. There were so many gaps and unanswered questions. Sure she was sick, yes she drank, and yes she didn’t take good care of herself, but the way Ronnie had acted after being with her for over 20 years got me thinking, what did she really die from? Why had there been so little details of her death and most importantly why wasn’t our family or at least me notified that she was that sick and that she died. When Ronnie answered the phone that day, his responses were limited and that I felt as though I had to pry it out of him where she was. And the most peculiar thing to me was why did he throw away everything she had before we even had time to go though what we would like to keep . Margie was sick but Margie also lived in an abusive relationship. I ask myself often and I am quite convinced that something happened between her and him that lead her to her death.
Being Native didn’t help because the police didn’t even bother to question her death or ask the family any questions. And the hospital had no information for us either. We were left with many questions and no answer. What would you think? What can you do? We live in Country where Indigenous women are targets of abuse, rape, being murdered or missing. The Inquiry public forum had opened up old wounds that I have tried to put behind me. It is never easy sharing our stories of our Indigenous women who still to this day have no protection against predators. This is just one story of many, there is not one Indigenous person’s life that MMIW hasn’t affected them in some way. So please I ask you to say her name Mary Margret Mckenna. She is loved and missed everyday…. NO MORE SILENCE!