Another one of our girls has been found dead. The disappearance of Loretta Saunders, 26, has now shifted into a homicide investigation. The body of Saunders, who is Inuk from Labrador and was almost three months pregnant, was found Wednesday afternoon along the Trans-Canada Highway in New Brunswick. Saunders, who went missing February 13, had recently submitted her proposal for her honours thesis on Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada, at Saint Mary’s University, in Halifax.
Last Tuesday, 5 days after her disappearance, police found Saunders’ car in Harrow, Ontario which is near Toronto. Two passengers in the vehicle, a young couple, who were both roommates of Saunders were both arrested and charged with possession of a stolen vehicle. The man was additionally charged with fraud for using Saunders’ bank card. Both also had outstanding warrants. It is not known if the two have been charged in connection with Saunders’ death but police have confirmed they are not looking for suspects at this time.
Two Row Times spoke with a friend of the Saunders family who stated there was a vigil held in Halifax last night which he attended. Asked on whether any more vigils have been planned upon hearing the news of Saunders’ death, he stated that right now, “everyone is just in shock.” Saunders’ aunt and uncle, along with her sisters and brothers have travelled from Labrador and have now arrived in Halifax.
Saunders’ disappearance had been deemed suspicious since she disappeared on February 13. Her two roommates were not students but did rent rooms off of her. A friend of the family told Two Row Times that the two roommates of Saunders were behind on their rent and had told those close to her that they owed her in back-rent and she was trying to get them to pay it.
Thousands of Indigenous women and girls missing and murdered all across North America is such a huge problem. They are being targeted. They are seen as disposable objects, to be used and abused and literally thrown away with the trash. Many families will go to their graves not knowing where their loved ones are and will never have found any answers or clues as to what happened to their missing or murdered loved one. That’s just the cold hard reality of the scope and nature of this issue. So what do we do? How do we protect our women? Because it’s not just the so-called ‘at risk’ who are being targeted as you can see with the case of Loretta Saunders. The fact is, if you are female and First Nations, then you are at a higher risk of becoming one of the murdered or missing. And no woman should ever have to live in constant fear and worry that they may become the next statistic.