Manitoba Indigenous community mourns as RCMP investigate death of 20-year-old

A family, and a community are in mourning following a homicide southeast of Winnipeg over the weekend.

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) says 20-year-old Mackaylah Gerard-Roussin was the victim of a homicide in Steinbach, Man., Saturday afternoon.

“I would like to express our sincere condolences to the friends and family of Mackaylah Gerard-Roussin,” says Grand Chief Garrison Settee in a written statement.

“Our hearts are with you as you mourn the loss of your loved one.”

RCMP say it was notified a homicide had occurred and responded to a residence on Creekside Drive in Steinbach.

Read more: Steinbach RCMP investigate after Winnipeg man charged with first-degree murder in rural homicide

The suspect had already fled in his vehicle by the time officers arrived, and police determined the victim was in the suspect’s vehicle.

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An intensive search began for the suspect, whose vehicle was spotted on Highway 52 near La Broquerie. As officers took him into custody, his vehicle caught on fire.

The victim’s body wasn’t found in the vehicle — but was later recovered on a remote ATV trail.

Rossbrook House, a Winnipeg centre for youth, also shared condolences upon hearing the news.

“Mackaylah was a lovely young woman who graduated last year from Rising Sun high school. She was a part of our Pow Wow and programs for many years,” the House says in a social media statement.

“We will always remember her as outgoing, smiling, and singing at our Christmas parties.”

Mounties have charged 20-year-old Josh Benoit with first-degree murder as a result of the killing.

Police said the suspect knew the victim.

Settee says all Canadians need to continue the fight to ensure Indigenous women and girls are safe from violence.

Read more: More than 60 per cent of Indigenous women have faced violence in Canada: report

“It is a basic human right to live without fear of violence, threats, and abuse. The ongoing legacy of our women being tragically taken through acts of violence is an unacceptable product of colonialism that impacts all of us,” he says.

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A spokesperson for the family of Gerard-Roussin says it will be releasing a statement in the days ahead.

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