Niagara Chapter - Native Women Inc.


Update on Heather Winterstein, age 24

Jan. 17, 2022 (Niagara Region, ON) – An Urgent Coroner’s Inquest must be called.
The family of Heather Winterstein aged 24, who passed away while in the care of Niagara Health System is not alone in
their grief and suffering. ‘’There are too many Indigenous families in the same situation’’ says Bonne Brant, President
of Niagara Chapter-Native Women Inc. “Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident.’ She says “an eerily similar story
occurred when Brent Sky 32, an Ojibway man from Shoal Lake reserve, was transported 90 kilometres by ambulance to
Lake of the Woods District Hospital in Kenora.” He was suffering with an extremely severe headache and painful
vision. He was seen in the emergency room and sent on his way with 3 Ibuprofen pills, (readily available over the
counter.). He travelled back home – alone – by bus. Speaking to his parents that evening, he still complained of the
headache and pain in his eyes. The following morning his father found him dead. He died of a brain bleed. This was
October 27, reported in a CBC article posted on December 13, 2021, “just 3 days after Heather’s Dec. 10 death.’’ Said
Brent Sky 32, Brian Sinclair 45, found dead in the Emergency dept. in Winnipeg and Joyce Echaquan 37 who passed
while in care at hospital in Quebec last year, “all have something in common with Heather Winterstien’’ says Wendy
Sturgeon, Executive Director, Niagara Chapter-Native Women Inc. ‘They are Indigenous. It’s a pattern, we know there
are others and it cannot be ignored.’
Bonnie Brant, President goes further saying, ‘’These are examples of systemic racism, although thousands of km apart
they have too much in common to be overlooked. Brent was 32; Heather was 24 – both in the prime of their
lives. Neither of these two were being seen for drug or alcohol related situations. In their cases, both were sent away
without testing to determine the cause of their ailment.’’
Brent’s case is still in the hands of the Chief Coroner’s office. Brian Sinclair’s inquest took seven years to give an
interim report, entitled “Ignored to Death” and found his condition was totally treatable if he had been tended to.
October 1, 2021, following the first National Day of Reconciliation, the Coroner’s report on Joyce Echaquan 37, was
released stating ‘that racism played a contributing factor in her death.’’
While we acknowledge that Niagara Health is conducting an Independent Investigation into this failure of care, the
Niagara Chapter-Native Women Inc.’s Board of Directors respectfully request further investigation in Heather’s case, in
the form of a full Coroner’s Inquest, as the family is requesting. This is in the hope that such catastrophes may not be
suffered by Native families in the future.
We call for the Coroner’s Inquest to address the long-standing issues of discrimination against Indigenous people,
particularly Indigenous Women and to fulfill the family’s wishes to ensure that this “never happens to another family”.
The Niagara Chapter-Native Women Inc. is founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster the health
and wellness, social, economic, cultural and political well-being of First Nations and Métis and Inuit women and their
families, within First Nation, Métis, Inuit and Canadian societies. We believe in becoming involved in the activities that
affect our daily lives. The chapter is affiliated with Ontario Native Women’s Association.
– 30-
For additional information please contact:
Wendy Sturgeon
Executive Director
Tel.: 905 871 8770 Cell:




·       As of Thursday, Jan. 6, 11 p.m., we are temporarily closing the Urgent Care Centre at our Fort Erie Site in order to redeploy our emergency-trained physicians and nurses to our Emergency Departments (ED) where they are most needed.

·       Members of the community seeking healthcare should first contact their primary care provider.

·       Our Urgent Care Centre in Port Colborne remains open and people can also access virtual urgent care services at

·       In an emergency, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest Emergency Department. For more information, please visit the Niagara Health website at


International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

November 25th, 2021

Flag raising of No More Stolen Sisters and End Gender-Based Violence flags at Niagara Regional Headquarters, November 25th, 2021, with Regional Chair Jim Bradley, NCNW Executive Director Wendy Sturgeon,  Regional CAO Ron Tripp, Community Safety & Wellbeing Michelle Johnston, and Regional Councillor Tim Rigby.


marking the beginning of

16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence

November 25th to December 10th, 2021

Join us virtually, Wednesday, December 8th, 2021, 10:00 am to 11:30 am to learn more with presenters Collin Graham & friends, and ONWA.

Register by email at: by Friday, December 3rd, 2021.

Learn more about ONWA’s Grandmother Earth Dress:

She honours and acknowledges Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirited People.”


Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021
A few days ago, Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health
Dr. Kieran Moore asked employers to continue to allow
people to work from home whenever possible as Covid 19
cases are rising across the province. As of today, Dec. 15
the province has strongly requested be enacted.
Based on this new request, NCNW is pivoting back to all
employees working from home.
The 905 871 8770 phone # will continue to be monitored
and messages answered (be patient, it may take time to get back to you).
We ask you continue to connect via email as you have in
the past and with your worker as usual.
FYI: Several employees will be off over the holiday season for a well deserved rest and family time. You are encouraged to reach out to your
other supports as needed. You can also reach out to
Indigenous Women’s Hotline (all Ontario)
TALK 4 HEALING 24 / 7 at 1-855-554-4325 Text, Call or Chat

Thank you to all the Health Care professionals and volunteers working to keep the community safe at this time.

For information regarding COVID-19 vaccine clinic hours,  3rd dose vaccinations and updates about the COVID-19 virus, please click here.



Niagara Chapter – Native Women Inc. ( is an autonomous provincial Chapter of the Ontario Native Women’s Association, which is affiliated with the Native Women’s Association of Canada. The NCNW encourages Native/Indigenous Women to become active participants in society while remembering and honouring our unique cultural and spiritual beliefs. Our organization is here to offer a friendly connecting place and to support Native/Indigenous women and their families through access to culturally relevant services and programs. Current initiatives include a strong interface with education, justice, health, and child welfare issues from infancy to beyond middle age. Our organization is built on the dedication of our members and volunteers. 

The Chapter receives no core or ongoing funding. We are fully owned and operated by Native/Indigenous women from our community. Niagara Chapter – Native Women Inc. is a fully registered not-for-profit charitable organization and became officially incorporated in 1983. We welcome your donations to help us continue providing programs and services for our people, and to assist in our growth through volunteerism to continue these much-needed provisions.

New members are always welcome! Click here for our membership form. To stay updated with our work, sign up for our newsletter here.






You can help with our work!

We are not a “core-funded” organization and do all of our own fundraising. We are a fully registered charity with Revenue Canada. If you wish to donate directly to us, 100% of your donation goes directly into our work and stays in Niagara! Alternatively, is an online donation service that retains 4% of all donations for administrative costs. 


We appreciate all online donations – DONATE now!




Subscribe to our Newsletter!

* indicates required




We greatly appreciate the support of our volunteers, members, agency partners, funders, sponsors and business partners.