Jarita isn’t a very common name. I’m pretty sure I’m the only one in the world named Jarita Greyeyes. Before I was born my mother was living on a reserve in northern Alberta. As her due date approached she was told to go back to the city to have me. Since I was her first child, they were worried the roads would get bad and if she needed help she wouldn’t have been able to get it. But she told many of her friends about me when I was born, and it seemed like someone told someone who liked the name and later they too named their daughter Jarita.
Even though I had heard that story many times, about the other baby girl that I had never met named Jarita, I forgot about it. Until she was murdered when we were both twenty years old. It was 2005 and I was in my second year of university. Jarita was in college too, in a town an hour and a half away from my father’s community. She went out one weekend with her friends and family. At some point in the evening she met someone who would kill her. Jarita had been beaten, strangled to death and her body was left to be discovered by a hotel maid. At the first trial held, a man was found guilty for her murder, but that verdict was overturned on appeal. It is a strange feeling to read the words of her loved ones. The ones who wept for her. The ones who still pray for her. The people who love her children, and cherish them as her last gifts to this world. To see those words “The murder of Jarita.” We are both Cree women, and just as it was her, it could have been me, or even you. No peace and no justice for the family of Jarita. No peace and no justice for any of us.
This is what it means to be an Indigenous woman. To see the latest news report of a missing or murdered woman and know that it could have just as easily been you, even if you don’t share the same name. Making it Home Alive, Jarita Greyeyes (via nitanahkohe)