During Curtis Sagmoen’s virtual hearing scheduled at Kelowna Law Courts on Thursday (June 10), three women stood at the top of the courthouse’s steps, condemning Sagmoen and violence against women.
Sagmoen was in court on charges related to his alleged assault of a police officer October 2020 near Falkland. The incident coincided with the execution of a search warrant at his parent’s Salmon River Road property.
The three women — Meagan Louis, Carol Laboucan and one who asked to remain anonymous — identified themselves as members of the Red Warriors and the Okanagan Sisters groups. Each wore red in honour of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and Two-Spirit (MMIWG2S).
On the same flight of steps, children’s shoes and stuffed animals sat just a few feet away from the women, placed there in honour of the 215 Indigenous children whose remains were recently discovered at the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.
“We are here to stand for all the missing and murdered,” said Laboucan, a Cree woman originally from Alberta.
“In light of the 215 children that were found in Kamloops, we need to understand that the issue for murdered and missing stems from the residential schools. This is a ripple effect and people need to know that.”
Spread out on the staircase were numerous signs with messages calling for justice against Sagmoen and an end to violence. A red dress — a symbol for missing and murdered MMIWG2S — was tied to the staircase’s railing.
“When you see red dresses, it symbolizes each woman that is no longer with us. The colour red is the colour of their blood that has spilt,” said Louis, who is from the Cheslatta Carrier Nation. “When you see red, I hope you think of all the blood that has been shed on Canada, in Canada.
There were also images of five women — Ashley Simpson, Caitlin Potts, Deanna Wertz, Traci Genereaux and Nicole Bell — who all went missing in the Shuswap/North Okanagan area.
“These are five women in that area, the ones that we know of, that are missing. They’re still missing. No signs of any of these women,” said Louis.
Sagmoen’s 10-hectare family farm, located on Salmon River Road, became the subject of an extensive police search on Oct. 19, 2017, where the remains of the missing 18-year-old Genereaux were found. Although her death was deemed suspicious, no charges have been laid.
In addition to performing drum songs, the three women also repeated a number of chants, such as “No more stolen sisters,” “Speak up for those who can’t,” “Gone but not forgotten” and “We are not disposable.”
Louis said that she and the other two women are in Kelowna to give a voice to the women whose voices were taken from them.
“We stand here. We stand up for these women… We want justice now,” she said. “No more violence against women. We are against violence against marginalized women — against all women.”
Sagmoen’s assault matter will return in the Vernon Courts on June 16 to fix the date for an estimated five-day long trial.
— With files from Brendan Shykora