In a gesture of support, several women dressed in red held their hands high in the courtroom while the survivor of an assault gave her victim impact statement.
“It was very hard for me to go to police … [but] I hope my words speak for those who cannot,” the survivor told the Vernon, B.C. court. Curtis Sagmoen, her attacker, held his head down and drew circles on a piece of paper.
“I feel lucky and fortunate to be here,” the woman continued, while her voice shook. Now, “I am always looking over my shoulder.”
Sagmoen was sentenced on Friday to five months jail and three years probation for assaulting a woman, who cannot be named under a publication ban. He struck her with his ATV, flipping her in the air, the court heard. With credit for time served, he walked free from the courtroom and returned to his family farm, where the attack took place.
In 2017 a search of Sagmoen’s family farm on Salmon River Road uncovered the remains of 18-year-old Traci Genereaux. No charges have been laid in that case. At least four other women have gone missing in the north Okanagan area since 2016 in unsolved cases. Many family members of those who are missing came to the sentencing.
And when Sagmoen returned to his farm on Friday, family of the missing and their supporters followed. IndigiNews was there, too. These photos from that day, presented in chronological order, intend to give space to those who have survived, to those who are grieving and to those who are caring for the ones who grieve.
Skookamina (Winter Bird) of Inkumupulux (Head of Okanagan Lake) joins the women to sing uplifting songs.
Many people honk in support.
This sign suggests a connection between local cases of missing women, and calls for justice.
Indigenous women and allies sing the Women’s Warrior Song as they wait for the sentencing to begin.
After the sentence came in, the family of the missing loved ones waits for Sagmoen’s exit so they can share their message.
Sagmoen makes a quick exit. He walks by the women and families of the lost loved ones as they hold their signs high.
Moments after, the women sing the Women’s Warrior Song one more time, towards each of the four directions, demanding the courts do a better job.
“The Crown counsel needs to readjust everything, in my opinion,” Dakota, a supporter, tells IndigiNews.
The supporters stay after the sentencing to create more plans for the next time they gather. And then they do something spontaneous…
They decide to load up and take a drive out to the Sagmoen farm, located on Secwepemc territory, and sing some songs for Traci Genereaux, for the woman assaulted on the property and for those who have gone missing.
On the drive down Salmon River Road, from the intersection of Yankee Flats — where residents have gone missing — to Curtis Sagmoen’s house, supporters yell out, “Gone but not forgotten!”
The women sing songs over the farm as the horses buck and jump around the corral.
Sagmoen smokes and watches as the women sing out and yell the names of the missing women in the area. “Traci’s life mattered! Caitlin’s life mattered! Deanna’s life mattered! Nicole’s life mattered! Ashley’s life mattered!”
As they continue back, they continue to sing and yell out.
As the crowd returns to their vehicles, the women sing the Women’s Warrior Song and get the attention of passersby, who stop to ask questions and join the group of women in song.