About 200 people attended a vigil for Mary Madeline Yellowback at the Cascades Recovery recycling plant where her body was found. (Jaison Empson/CBC) Hundreds gathered for a vigil Tuesday night to support the family of Mary Madeline Yellowback, whose body was found in a load of recycling in Winnipeg.
They gathered at the recycling plant, joined by some of the workers who were there when Yellowback’s body was found. Also in attendance were members of her family, politicians including MLA Bernadette Smith, and Michele Audette, a commissioner with the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
"I’m really grateful for all the people that are here today. That really lifts me up in my spirit," said Rex Ross, Yellowback’s father. Police released these photos of Yellowback Tuesday. (Submitted by Winnipeg Police Service ) Ross said his 33-year-old daughter left her community of Manto Sipi Cree Nation, also known as God’s River, Man., about three weeks ago. She was escorting her son to a medical appointment and then "went back on the streets," he said.
"She never came back to our community. It’s so sad that we have to take her home, so sad to take her home in a casket," he said.
Yellowback’s body was found at the Cascades Recovery plant on Friday. Plant supervisor Garry Yachison says counsellors were brought in to help staff who were affected.
"I think we’re doing fairly well. The company offered counselling, we brought in the counsellor yesterday actually and we’re pulling through," he said.
Yachison said he was glad to see so many people turn out to support the family.
"They asked if the employees would come by and shake their hands. It was a good feeling as a company, we’re here for the family," he said. Members of Serena McKay’s family attended the vigil. Their family is close with Yellowquill’s family. (Erin Brohman/CBC) Also in attendance were members of Serena McKay’s family. McKay was beaten to death on Sagkeeng First Nation in April 2017.
Yellowback’s and McKay’s families are close friends, said McKay’s mother Delores Daniels.
"We hope that they find out what happened to their daughter and we really hope that they don’t have to live with that pain of not knowing," she said.
Gloria Lalman, McKay’s grandmother, said it’s important to teach young people about potential dangers.
"It hits close to home for us, because losing a daughter is the most horrific thing in the world, and it’s been a difficult year for us too and I can relate to how they’re feeling," said Lalman. MMIWG commissioner Michele Audette spoke at the vigil. (Jaison Empson/CBC) MMIWG commissioner Audette spoke during the vigil, saying they held a prayer for the family at a hearing in Winnipeg on Tuesday.
"You don’t know us, you don’t know me, but we do care and we will continue to walk beside you to pray with you, and the tears are so important for the healing," she said, addressing the family.
Winnipeg police do not yet know the cause of Yellowback’s death, nor how she was transported to the recycling depot in the Omand’s Creek Industrial area. Officers are treating the investigation as a suspicious death, until the homicide unit determines how she died.
With files from Erin Brohman
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