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Indigenous History Month: Gwenda's Story

Gwenda Yuzicappi is a Child in Care Worker at the Fort Qu’Appelle office and member of the Ministry of Social Services’ Team of Indigenous Employees of Saskatchewan (TIES) committee. Gwenda is a passionate person. She speaks with enthusiasm about the beauty of the Qu’Appelle Valley where she lives, about the time she spends with her grandchildren and about the important work of the TIES committee.

Gwenda’s passion extends to her work as an advocate for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Gwenda began her journey to advocacy after her daughter, Amber Redman, went missing. Amber was missing for nearly three years before her remains were found in 2008.

In 2005, Gwenda organized her first awareness walk in her home community of Standing Buffalo Dakota First Nation, where 500 people came to walk with her and show support. She planned two other walks during the time Amber was missing.

“The awareness walk’s purpose was to inform the public that my late daughter was missing,” said Gwenda. “It was devastating to plan the very first walk because my denial was still strong, but they helped me to gain my strength. All the elements – the fire, the water, the air, the spiritual and mystical energies – were simply amazing,” she said.

During the time Amber was missing, Gwenda also had the opportunity to speak at Parliament Hill and meet with other families of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

“This was a blessing,” Gwenda said.

A statue of a dancing girl.
In 2017, a statue made in the likeness of Amber was installed outside the police station in Saskatoon. Cree artist Lionel Peyachew created the statue to capture the way Amber danced. She is raised on her tiptoes and her shawl is drawn up behind her to look like an eagle’s wings. At Amber’s feet is a cloud, which represents the way she danced lightly on her toes during girl’s fancy at powwows. The statue is called Red Star Woman.

“I am very honoured to know that, as I shared my late daughter’s legacy, this person was sitting in the crowd visualizing my story of the way my late daughter danced like an eagle with wings that gracefully glided and that for every step she used the tip of her toes like dancing on the clouds,” Gwenda said. “I love this statue, and when I feel the beautiful energies that come from it, I feel my late daughter is there overseeing the women and girls within Saskatoon and the North.”

Gwenda said she has found a lot of support among her ministry colleagues and that she’s especially very proud to be part of TIES, where she can share both her and Amber’s story and support her fellow team members.

“I’m honoured to be a part of this group,” she said. “We all bring certain gifts to this TIES family, and I can’t wait to see what unfolds.”

It’s difficult for Gwenda to share her story and to think that Amber is not with her in the physical world. Despite this, she said that being an advocate for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls helps her gain strength.

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