By Barb Nahwegahbow
For John Fox, Mother’s Day has come to mean one thing. It’s the opportunity to honour his daughter Cheyenne, a 20-year old mother who fell to her death from a 24th floor balcony on April 25, 2013. Her death occurred in Toronto’s Don Mills area. Initially, Cheyenne’s death was ruled a suicide. However, last August after intervention by Fox and Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto, the Chief Coroner changed cause of death to undetermined.
On May 8, Fox and a small, sombre group of family and friends gathered at Toronto Police Headquarters at Yonge and College streets. “This is for my daughter on Mother’s Day,” said Fox, a citizen of Wikwemikong Unceded Territory. “It’s in remembrance of Cheyenne and at the same time, in memory of other women. There’s so many women going missing every day and that to me is unacceptable. There just doesn’t seem to be anything that this society is doing to rectify any of that.” He added, “I’m very afraid for the women.”
The baby that Cheyenne left behind, said Fox, is six years old now. Xavier is being raised by his father and his paternal grandparents at a First Nation on Manitoulin Island. “I do this every Mother’s Day,” said Fox, “to show that we don’t forget our mothers. We honour them.”
Fox has made an Eagle Staff for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women. “I noticed that as soon as I pulled out the Eagle Staff here today, it started thundering right away,” he said. “Right away as soon as I took it out, it started and lasted about ten minutes so that’s the Thunderbirds acknowledging our missing and murdered women. That’s a very strong message for us. It made me so happy to hear that.”
He’s skeptical about the MMIW inquiry being planned, “because it’s being driven by the government…the people that basically attacked our people, terrorized our people,” he said. Fox said he will not be participating in the inquiry.
Charlotte Taylor from Curve Lake First Nation travelled to Toronto, “to stand in solidarity with John Fox and his family to help bring justice to his daughter, Cheyenne, and to let the police know that there are children out there with no mothers on Mother’s Day. We’d like to respect those mothers who are gone and let them know that we’re still thinking about them. That we won’t let the cops forget about them.”