Mother speaks out about her daughter’s death, appeals for action on MMIWG - APTN NewsAPTN News

Mother speaks out about her daughter’s death, appeals for action on MMIWG

Justin Brake
The mother and cousin of a young Mi’kmaw woman who died last month are speaking out in hopes of bringing more awareness to the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada.
Speaking from her home in We’koqma’q First Nation, Nova Scotia Mona Bernard described her daughter Cassidy as “an angel,” a “bright-spirited child,” and “just beautiful.”
Cassidy Jean Bernard, 22, was found dead in her We’koqma’q home on Oct. 24. 
She was also the mother of six-month-old identical twin girls, Mya and Paisley.
“She must have been an angel from God, because nobody gets blessed very often to have that opportunity to have identical twins,” Mona said.
Mona said Cassidy “was just a master” at mothering. “She was just a queen of these babies.”
Annie Bernard-Daisley, Cassidy’s cousin and a band councillor for We’koqma’q, told APTN News Cassidy was “very community-oriented,” and that the young mother “went to every community function that there was with her little babies.
“It was amazing to watch her do that,” she said.
Mona said her daughter was brilliant, “in her culture and in English,” and that she would sing and speak in Mi’kmaq to her daughters.
She said she is taking care of her two granddaughters now.
Waiting on medical examiner
RCMP in Nova Scotia have not yet named Bernard as the deceased, but have called the death “suspicious” and say they are investigating.
They’re waiting for Nova Scotia’s medical examiner service to complete its own investigation before the RCMP can classify the death as anything other than suspicious, RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Jennifer Clarke told APTN News Friday.
APTN reached out to Nova Scotia’s Medical Examiner Service for information on Cassidy’s case but did not receive a response by the time of publication.
Police have not said there’s a public safety risk in the wake of Bernard’s death.
But Mona and Annie say even though Cassidy’s case is so recent and is not yet solved, they feel compelled to speak out about the ongoing epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women.
“The government has to step up and actually do something about it,” Annie said, commending the Trudeau government for launching the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, but adding action should not wait until the Inquiry files its final report.
“It’s an awesome thing that they’re…recognizing that there’s a problem, that there’s an epidemic. But they should be doing something about it now,” she said.
“They should have been doing something about it decades ago, so that these men and these predators wouldn’t feel safe to actually hurt our women and get away with it. It’s been going on far too long. 
“They’re getting away with murdering our women, taking their lives, and taking them away from their families, because they know they can. They know there’s a track record with the government not following through with investigations and making sure people who are doing this to our women for the safety of everybody else in society.”
Cassidy is the second child Mona has lost “at somebody else’s hand.”

Ten years ago her 19-year-old son Carlyle was found dead in Sydney.

Last year APTN Investigates interviewed Mona about her son’s death. Mona said she wanted to see the MMIWG Inquiry include missing and murdered Indigenous men too.

“They said he was swimming and that he drowned,” she explained. “But there was little investigation and nobody really gave me the right answers. I heard so many different stories on his death. He didn’t drown. He wouldn’t even go into that water.
“And the investigation, I don’t know what ever happened but it just didn’t keep going.”
Looking for answers, taking action
“My eyes are wide open,” Mona said, having lost two of her six children.
She wants answers.
Annie said she and Mona are urging people in the community with information to come forward.
“We live in small communities. People are related to each other. People might be defending each other. And it’s our people who are doing that,” she said.
“Our people have to stop [defending people who kill] because it’s making our society feel like they are able to take women’s lives and get away with it. And it’s gotta stop happening. They have to be courageous and stand up and give out the information to the right people.”
APTN Investigates interviewed Mona Bernard last year. She had already lost her son Carlyle Denny and believes police didn’t do a thorough enough investigation into his 2008 death. Now, following the death of her 22-year-old daughter Cassidy, she’s hoping for answers. APTN file photo.
As part of their awareness raising campaign family members have begun using the hashtag “JusticeForCass on social media.
The family is also planning what they’re calling a “Red Dress Protest” for 12 p.m. Noon Wednesday, Nov. 21, when they will block the Canso Causeway, which connects Unama’aki (Cape Breton Island) to the mainland.
“Bring a red dress, bring a poster ! Bring yourself!” Annie posted on Facebook Friday, adding the event will be  peaceful protest to create an awareness to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous women and men in all of Canada!”
“I don’t want anyone to lose an angel like I just did. I swear, I don’t want any other mother to feel this kind of pain,” Mona said.
“Cassidy was just a beautiful angel that was sent to me from God. And somebody has taken her away.”

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4 Responses to “Mother speaks out about her daughter’s death, appeals for action on MMIWG”

    Janet November 20, 2018 at 4:01 pm #

    As family I would love to go but where Wagmatcook ppl r been looked down on bc of this sad situation.I stand for my family in Waycobah. May God Bless everyone and that the killer is caught soon and family get their Justice for Cass and especially for her babies. Love u all

    Cj November 17, 2018 at 12:59 am #

    Bless her and prayers for her family

    Cj November 17, 2018 at 12:58 am #

    Unfortunately, I believe this is true. It happens in the US too, no investigation. Nothing. Pray for change.

    Lisa Deyarmond November 16, 2018 at 7:43 pm #

    This is so heartbreaking. My heart goes out to you and your family. Nobody should be made to feel that any life is indispensable. I am truly at a loss for words. Hoping that your family gets the answers that you need and justice prevails. May your daughters sole rest in peace. Thinking of you all.