‘Justice for Kennysha’

Storm Campiou, 11, recevies comfort from her grandmother, Paula Campiou, during the Justice for Kennysha Walk April 2 at McLennan. Campiou is Kennysha’s mother.

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

Repeated chants of “Justice for Kennysha” were heard for over two hours April 2 at a walk to honour and remember the much-loved woman.

Kennysha Louise Gardiner (Dec. 16, 1992 – Dec. 23, 2023) was found dead along the highway just east of McLennan. Her death remains an unsolved crime to this day. She was only 31.

A crowd of about 150 attended the walk in her honour. Gardner’s death is a story told far too often, but this one had other consequences.

“It wasn’t just one life,” said Nancy Chalifoux, Lesser Slave Lake Indian Regional Council resolution health support worker.

“She was carrying twin boys.”

Chalifoux knows first-hand of what she speaks. Her mother was also killed in 2001. The case remains unsolved.

It is also the second similar tragedy for the Gardiner family, having lost another family member 46 years ago. That crime is also unsolved.

Chalifoux addressed the audience inside the McLennan Elks Hall before the walk. She first said everyone attending has been impacted by the violence and that the walk helps raise awareness to the fact the affected friends and family want justice and will be heard.

Chalifoux explained the significance of the staff at the walk. She told a story of how a young woman had a vision to put the name of a loved one on a ribbon and attach it to a staff.

“We have 68 names on this staff,” she said, before inviting others to add a name.

She also asked a family member to carry the staff during the walk. Kennysha’s daughter, Storm Campiou, 11, did the honour.

Women with rattles also sang The Women’s Warrior Song as they walked amid the repeated chants of “Justice for Kennysha.”

“We have to make the public aware this has happened,” said Chalifoux.

“We have to make noise. We have to raise awareness.

“Let’s walk in a good way today in love and kindness.”

The walk proceeded from the hall to the location in town Kennysha was last seen alive, and to the site southeast of McLennan where her body was found. The family also stopped at the gravesite to pay respects before returning to the hall for lunch, support and fellowship.

The family was invited to comment after the walk but respectfully declined.

Kennysha was born in McLennan Dec. 16, 1992. She was survived by: her daughter, Storm Campiou; mother, Paula Campiou; father, Kenneth Gardiner; sister, Kayleen Campiou; brothers Delaney Campiou and Kassius Campiou; paternal grandparents, and numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins.

A red dress was hung in a tree and a wreath left near the site where Kennysha’s body was found southeast of McLennan.
The walk stopped to pay respects at the location where Kennysha was last seen alive.
A very brave Storm Campiou, 11, carried a staff during the walk in her mother’s memory.
The walk proceeded east after leaving the McLennan Elks Hall, led by Storm Campiou, in front, carriying a staff.
A beautiful memorial was set up for Kennysha Gardiner inside the McLennan Elks Hall.
Many chose to draw individual signs relaying their own message.
Shinean Capot, of Grouard, attended the walk to support Gardiner. Her face is painted red to signify the missing and murdered Indigenous women who have been silenced by their murder.
Tina Emard, of McLennan holds one of several signs distributed to people at the walk.
Gracie Emard, 10, of Donnelly, holds a sign of support for all missing and murdered Indigenous women.

Share this post

Post Comment