Seven years since Colten Pratt’s disappearance, family still searching for answers

By Mike Albanese

WINNIPEG (CityNews) ─ The mother of a Winnipeg boy who went missing in 2014 feels more needs to be done to help search for missing and murdered Indigenous men and boys.

One month from now, Lydia Joyce Daniels’ son Colten Pratt will have been missing for seven years.

This anniversary is different than the previous six. It’s the first time the family is planning a ceremony, which they say is to send Pratt to the spirit world.

“I guess I can describe it as a special type of hell, living not knowing where your child is,” said Daniels.

“I know he loved his family so much and he hasn’t made contact, it gives us good reason to believe that he’s no longer here. Something has happened to him, possibly he was harmed.”

Pratt was last seen at the Marlborough Hotel in Winnipeg on Nov. 7, 2014. For years, his family has held out hope that he wasn’t one of the missing and murdered Indigenous men and boys.

“We have a traditional ceremony to help people move on to the spirit world, but that doesn’t mean that we’re giving up hope on Colten,” said his mother. “We believe there are answers out there. We believe that somebody knows something.

“It’s just to help us come to terms, it’s just to help us with the healing process.”

Pratt, who identified as two-spirited, was a happy, funny kid according to his mother. But she says he dealt with bullying because of his identity.

Colten Pratt

Credit: FACEBOOK/Jacqueline A. Daniels

The Native Women’s Association of Canada represents the political voice of Indigenous women, girls, and gender-diverse people.

“I feel for the gender-diverse community,” said Lorraine Whitman, president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada. “They do have these barriers, they still face discrimination and racism, and being an Indigenous person just adds another checkmark on the discrimination and the racism that occurs.”

Daniels has advocated for more attention to be brought to men and boys, and feels that too often the lens stays focused on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls only.

According to Statistics Canada, of the 201 Indigenous people murdered in 2020, 81 per cent were men.

Colten Pratt

Credit: FAECBOOK/BJ Maggrah

John Hansen, an associate professor of sociology and the University of Saskatchewan, says every Indigenous person who is missing or murdered is equally important, and future inquiries should be for missing and murdered Indigenous people.

“To make a more holistic approach in my view would develop new insights into how we can understand,” said Hansen. “It limits the amount of information we can get by just focusing on part of the issue rather than the whole issue.”

Despite Pratt’s family deciding it was time to hold a ceremony for him, his mother’s journey for answers won’t stop here.

“Come forward, give us peace so we can put Colten to rest.”

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