UPDATE: Mural for missing and murdered indigenous women in Enderby vandalized with racial slurs; RCMP investigating | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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UPDATE: Mural for missing and murdered indigenous women in Enderby vandalized with racial slurs; RCMP investigating

This mural painted by artist Isha Jules was meant to honour missing and murdered indigenous women. It was vandalized with racial slurs sometime on May 9, 2018.
Image Credit: Jody Leon
Original Publication Date May 10, 2018 - 10:31 AM

ENDERBY - Shockwaves are going through a North Okanagan community this morning after a mural honouring missing and murdered indigenous women was defaced with racial slurs.

The mural, painted last year by artist Isha Jules at the skate park in Enderby, was a statement that missing women would not be forgotten. It boldly stated “No more stolen sisters.” This week, someone painted over that message with the words “No more drunk stolen squaw sisters.” The mural had already been painted over in black and white at some point previously.  

“It’s really disturbing,” advocate Jody Leon says. “It feels like such a disrespect to the artist, the women, and the families.”

Organizers of the project made clear the mural and the cause was for all murdered and missing women but concern has been raised around the country about indigenous women in particular. Four women are currently missing from the area, and a fifth woman was found dead at a rural farm about 30 minutes out of Enderby.


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It’s not the first time the mural has been targeted. A few days earlier, someone painted a black widow spider on it, and on May 5, while hanging up red dresses in honour of missing and murdered indigenous women, Leon says she was sworn at by an aggressive man in the park. She notes the same man was later seen taking the dresses down, and says he has been reported to police.

Image Credit: River Johnson

While such overt acts of discrimination are rare in the community, racism does exist, Leon says.

“There have been some expressions of hate in the past,” Leon says. “There is some element of racial tensions in the area, but it is not the majority of people.”

Local resident River Johnson, who was born and raised in the community, was shocked when she saw the mural was vandalized.

“This morning I cried, and I am a pretty strong woman,” Johnson says.

She recalls being called a squaw in high school years ago in Enderby, and says her daughter has been told to “go back to the res where she belongs” by other students.

“This is not a new issue here,” she says.

RCMP spokesperson Const. Kelly Brett says police are aware of the incident.

“The investigation is ongoing and the Enderby RCMP are working with the city of Enderby on this matter,” she says.

City of Enderby Mayor Greg McCune says he met with the RCMP and is hopeful they will find the person responsible.

“Is it acceptable? Absolutely not,” McCune says of the vandalism. “It’s just not part of our society. I would say we have 3,000 residents here, and it (vandalism) is representative of that one person who did it that needs some help. I don’t know of another person in Enderby that would do that.”

The mayor says it’s a common trend for local youth to paint over graffiti at the skate park with new imagery every few weeks, a trend that predates the creation of the mural. That might have been what happened when the mural was painted over in white and black. McCune says the City is offering to work with the organizers to find a new location for the mural in hopes of preventing it from being painted over again. 

As of Thursday morning, the vulgar remarks are already painted over, plans are underway to repaint the mural, and a rally is being organized for Saturday to denounce the hateful act.

“People are coming together saying this is intolerable and unacceptable,” Leon says.

Anyone wishing to attend the rally is asked to meet at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 12, at the skate park on Old Vernon Road. 

The vandal added the words 'drunk' and 'squaw' to the 'No more stolen sisters' mural.
The vandal added the words 'drunk' and 'squaw' to the 'No more stolen sisters' mural.
Image Credit: River Johnson

— This story was updated at 1:08 p.m. May 10, 2018 to add comments from RCMP and the Enderby Mayor. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston or call 250-309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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