HALIFAX: Cassidy Bernard is a name a local MLA doesn’t want Nova Scotians to forget.
Last Thursday, Inverness MLA Alan MacMaster invited the family of the late 22-year-old mother of two to Halifax as he introduced a resolution in the House of Assembly to remember her.
“I introduced this resolution to ensure Cassidy is not forgotten, as well as, take this opportunity to acknowledge all missing and murdered indigenous women,” MacMaster said. “I thought it would be nice if the legislature stood together in support of the family, knowing what they’ve been through, and wishing them support at this time – hoping they find justice for Cassidy.”
Cassidy was found dead on the morning of October 24 inside her We’koqma’q First Nation home. Her six-month-old twin daughters were in the home at the time of the incident but were unharmed.
“It is my sincere wish that there is justice for Cassidy and that her daughters, Paisley Jean and Mia Mae, can feel secure that we will work together, to continue to build a society that values and protects First Nation peoples,” MacMaster explained.
RCMP remain tightlipped with information on their investigation and have only said they’re treating the death as suspicious.
Jennifer Clarke, a public information officer, confirmed to The Reporter on Friday that they have received the autopsy report from the medical examiner’s office but indicated there is no new information as their investigation is ongoing.
Twenty of Bernard’s friends and family members visited Province House to watch MacMaster introduce the resolution.
Annie Bernard-Daisley, Cassidy’s cousin and a three-term band councillor with We’koqma’q First Nation, said getting into the legislature was a huge deal as it helped to open some eyes.
“When we marched across the Causeway one of the biggest factors that we talked about was solidarity amongst all of us, this was a big step towards that,” Bernard-Daisley told The Reporter Monday afternoon. “There’s no better time to start – we have to work together; that’s the reason we [went] to ensure that all women who have lost their lives at the hands of a murderer are remembered.”
Cassidy’s family was invited to come to Halifax to meet with politicians to show them what the issues of missing and murdered Indigenous women looks like first-hand, who it leaves behind and who is ultimately left to suffer.
Bernard-Daisley provided six specific recommendations to the legislature that could change the way the province looks at addressing the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women.
“To ensure all First Nations communities have adequate access to police services,” she said in regards to her top recommendation. “We have inadequate policing services in We’koqma’q. When you have a lack of policing services, there is a lack of protection in your community.”
Bernard-Daisley highlighted the need for the regional chief and council to meet with local police and the Nova Scotia justice department to provide immediate action if an Indigenous women is reported missing, because all too many times when someone is reported missing, it’s not taken serious.
She also asked for the province to develop a position to open cold cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women to see if new technology can solve these cases.
In addition to MacMaster’s resolution introduction, NDP MLA Lenore Zann made an emotional address to the family.
“Cassidy Bernard’s death was not an isolated incident. Across the country there is an unfolding crisis that is both tragic and outraging – missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. A story of systemic racism, ongoing colonial violence, and a failure on the part of government to take needed action,” she said addressing the house. “I want to stand here today and say to all the Mi’kmaq women, mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and daughters that yes, you are valued. Yes, you are loved. Yes, you are cherished. And together we can and will fight to honour Cassidy’s memory.”
For Zann to stand up when she didn’t have to and speak on behalf of Mi’kmaq women, meant a lot for Bernard-Daisley.
“There wasn’t a dry eye amongst us all as a family that were sitting there and the woman that were there to support us,” she said. “It made us feel like, you know what, not only did we come here today to speak on behalf of what we truly feel is important, and we’re able to speak our voices but to have somebody in there to validate who we are as a people, made us feel great, it was emotional.”