Friday, December 4, 2015



Helen Betty Osborne, a Cree Aboriginal, was born in Norway House, Manitoba. In 1971, she joined a government programme in which families were paid to home Native students and was sent to live with a Caucasian family, the Benson’s, in The Pas, Manitoba, when she was 19-years-old. She attended Margaret Barbour Collegiate nearby to study to become a teacher and settled in within the community and made numerous friends. Sadly, her hopes of becoming a teacher were stolen from her on 13 November, 1971. She had spent the evening with her friends at a local cafe before deciding she would go downtown with her friends for a few drinks. At around midnight, her friends returned home without Helen. It’s unknown what happened to her between 12am and 2:30am, but at approximately 2:30am, Helen was abducted and brutally murdered - she had been raped, severely beaten and stabbed over 50 times with a screwdriver. Her naked body was discovered the following day by a local teenager. The case remained unsolved until 16 years later when four Caucasian men from the Pas, Dwayne Archie Johnston, James Robert Paul Houghton, Lee Scott Colgan and Norman Bernard Manger, were implicated on her brutal murder.  Regardless of the evidence against them, only Johnston was convicted - Houghton was acquitted, Colgan received immunity for testifying against Houghton and Johnston, and Manger was never charged. Due to the circumstances surrounding her death and the shoddy investigation, the case became the subject of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry - they discovered that the injustice was the direct result of racism, sexism, and indifference.

The Life of Helen Betty Osborne, by David Alexander Robertson, is based on her life.
 
Helen Betty Osborne, a Cree Aboriginal, was born in Norway House, Manitoba. In 1971, she joined a government programme in which families were paid to home Native students and was sent to live with a Caucasian family, the Benson’s, in The Pas, Manitoba, when she was 19-years-old. She attended Margaret Barbour Collegiate nearby to study to become a teacher and settled in within the community and made numerous friends. Sadly, her hopes of becoming a teacher were stolen from her on 13 November, 1971. She had spent the evening with her friends at a local cafe before deciding she would go downtown with her friends for a few drinks. At around midnight, her friends returned home without Helen. It’s unknown what happened to her between 12am and 2:30am, but at approximately 2:30am, Helen was abducted and brutally murdered - she had been raped, severely beaten and stabbed over 50 times with a screwdriver. Her naked body was discovered the following day by a local teenager. The case remained unsolved until 16 years later when four Caucasian men from the Pas, Dwayne Archie Johnston, James Robert Paul Houghton, Lee Scott Colgan and Norman Bernard Manger, were implicated on her brutal murder.  Regardless of the evidence against them, only Johnston was convicted - Houghton was acquitted, Colgan received immunity for testifying against Houghton and Johnston, and Manger was never charged. Due to the circumstances surrounding her death and the shoddy investigation, the case became the subject of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry - they discovered that the injustice was the direct result of racism, sexism, and indifference.

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