North End of Winnipeg
Katherena Vermette grew up in the North End of Winnipeg, Manitoba, a neighbourhood distinguished by a relatively high population of Indigenous people (approximately. 25%), primarily First Nations and Métis people. Winnipeg, a city often singled out for its high rate of reported crimes, garners further negative outsider attention in its North End because of its dense number of reported crimes. In an interview with CBC Radio, Vermette described her childhood as not being “picturesque”, in the usual sense of the word. For Vermette, growing up in the North End of Winnipeg meant that things were not always simple and, from a young age, she bore witness to the kind of injustice and prejudice that young people are typically spared from. An example of this injustice came when a 14-year-old Vermette lost her older brother, the just 18 year-old Donovan, who was missing for six months prior to being found dead. Vermette asserts that the combination of Donovan’s young age, the circumstance at his having been at a bar with friends prior to his disappearance, and because he was Cree meant that his disappearance did not get adequate coverage by the media. Vermette cites the general apathy shown by the people of her community and the media surrounding her brother’s disappearance as being the factor which instigated her own sense of the unfairness of the discrimination against the Aboriginal populations of Canada by non-Aboriginal Canadians, leading to her desire to activate for change.