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We’koqma’q First Nation is offering a $100,000 reward to find who’s responsible for the death of Cassidy Bernard, a 22-year-old mother of two who was found dead in her We’koqma’q home nearly a month ago.
“We’re beyond just saying that something has to be done,” said We’koqma’q chief Rod Googoo. “We’re actually stepping up today and doing something. It’s a substantial amount of money. But you know what, it just might give the authorities, the RCMP and investigators that extra piece of evidence that they need.”
The band held a special chief and council meeting Tuesday morning and unanimously agreed to fund the reward from band revenues.
The band released a passionate statement calling for Bernard’s “murderer to be brought to justice.”
“Her murder has devastated her children, family, our community and impacted the entire Mi'kmaw Nation and extended community,” said the statement. “We'koqma'q First Nation stands firmly united with Cassidy's family and our community to condemn this horrific act and we will not sit idle.
“We know that there are individuals amongst us that have valuable information that can help the RCMP with their investigation. The time is now to report any information you have to the RCMP or the Crime Stoppers.”
The reward hinges on information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the death of Bernard.
Bernard was found dead in her We'koqma'q home on Oct 24. She was with her two infant children, who were unharmed. Since then RCMP have released little information about its investigation into the woman’s death, other than to say investigators “don’t believe it was a random act.”
Googoo says he’s been hit hard by the tragedy. The substantial reward is ultimately about seeking justice for Bernard but he hopes it sends a deeper message to First Nation communities across the country.
“I know the RCMP are doing their best but the case has kind of stalled. There are thousands and thousands of missing and murdered aboriginal women right across this country and we still don’t have any answers. Maybe First Nation leadership needs to take action. We have to step up and do something, too.”
Residents of the Mi'kmaq community have voiced their frustration over the RCMP investigation and the little information being made public. Police say they are waiting for the medical examiner’s report on Bernard before making any public statements.
On Wednesday, community members are planning to participate in a peaceful protest at the Canso Causeway to raise awareness of Bernard’s case but also all the missing indigenous murdered, men, women, boys (and) girls, organizer Annie Bernard-Daisley said Monday.
“In all these cases someone knows something about each and every incident,” said Googoo. “We’re reaching out in our own way and hopefully we’ll entice that person to come and bring that information forward.
“Cassidy was such a sweet, innocent child. No woman in this world should have motherhood taken away. I had a grandmother and mother I loved very dearly, a wife, lovely daughters and sisters and nieces. It hits really close. “
Googoo says the $100,000 reward demonstrates the band is prepared to do what it takes to help find who’s responsible for Bernard’s death.
“We’re not taking this lightly. We will find you eventually.
“We as a native leadership have to stand up and show that we stand with our native women, we’re for our native women and stand by our native women.”