Holding Space for Cindy Gladue
Updated: Jan 23
Welcome back readers! The Reconcili-ACTION YEG Team is back (with one new member to be introduced on Thursday). We all hope that you enjoyed the Holiday season and we wish you the best in 2023!
For the next few weeks, we will be exploring the national crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) and other gender-related topics. We hope that you will join us on this difficult journey, as we delve into the many hardships that Indigenous women and girls have faced throughout history and continue to face today.
On January 4th and 5th, I had the opportunity to attend the event, “Holding Space for Cindy Gladue.” The event was organized by the Wahkohtowin Law and Governance Lodge at the University of Alberta Faculty of Law, and by the group Standing Together. The event was organized to honour Cindy Gladue’s memory and stand with her family on what was scheduled to be a very difficult day. Cindy Gladue was killed eleven years ago. Her killer has appealed his conviction, which was scheduled to be heard on January 4th in Edmonton. After a power outage at the Edmonton Court of King’s Bench, the case was postponed at the last minute, leaving Cindy’s family and friends feeling “re-traumatized.”
Photo Credit: Wahkohtowin Law and Governance Lodge <https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=500014212219985&set=a.428736546014419>.
Despite the postponement, the event still took place at the University of Alberta Faculty of Law. On January 4th, stations were set up with activities like a quilt project, a beading station, and a painting station. Ribbon skirt pins, created by Cindy’s Auntie, were also available to all who attended the event.
On January 5th, the activities continued, and a Teach-In was held, which was open to the public. In this session, prolific Métis lawyer Jean Teillet, and Indigenous law professors Val Napoleon and Tamara Baldhead Pearl, spoke to those in attendance about Cindy, and about the systemic issues in this country that continue to victimize Indigenous women and girls. This session was incredibly powerful, and although some of it was difficult to hear, it was very meaningful and important.
Through numerous trials and appeals, Cindy’s family and friends have been mistreated and retraumatized time and time again. This event allowed Cindy’s family to feel supported and seen, something that I feel is crucial as they move forward in their healing. This event made an effort to centre Cindy in the process, and remind everyone that she is not just a statistic; she was a person, and she was very loved by her friends and family.
Sometimes, as law students and lawyers, we can forget the human side of cases like Cindy’s, and focus instead just on the legal issues. By attending events like this, law students can be reminded that in every single criminal case that we read, the names of victims are more than just words on a page. They are people with different backgrounds and stories, and it is important to remember them for their lives and successes, not just for their deaths or victimization.
Until next time,
Team Reconcili-ACTION YEG
 Jonny Wakefield, “Multiple cases postponed- including high-profile appeal- after power outage at Edmonton courthouse” (4 January 2023), online: Edmonton Journal <https://edmontonjournal.com/news/crime/edmonton-courthouse-postpones-convicted-killer-bradley-bartons-appeal-due-to-power-outage>.  Anna Junker, “Cindy Gladue honoured by friends and family as killer’s appeal is delayed in Edmonton” (4 January 2023), online: Edmonton Journal <https://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/cindy-gladue-honoured-by-friends-family-as-killers-appeal-is-delayed-in-edmonton>.  Ibid.  Wahkohtowin Law and Governance Lodge, “Standing Together and Wahkohtowin Law and Governance Lodge are co-hosting a Teach In…” (3 January 2023), posted on Wahkohtowin Law and Governance Lodge, online: Facebook <https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=500014212219985&set=a.428736546014419>.