Rae Bennett’s Healing Journey a Powerful Story for National Truth and Reconciliation Day

Posted On Tuesday September 27, 2022

Aboriginal Education Worker Rae Bennett is turning the tragedy and trauma of her early life into a profound healing journey, and she is using her story to encourage others. She will be speaking to staff at the SD73 School Board Office September 29, 2022 as part of the District’s acknowledgement of the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.

“When I talk about my Mom, the purpose is not to trigger further trauma, but to raise awareness and to inspire change,” said Bennett. “Having a beloved family member who was victim to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada was very traumatic. But knowing that the MMIWG Inquiry is telling us that Indigenous women and girls are still so much at risk makes it essential that we keep talking about this.”

In September 2019, the MMIWG Inquiry released its report after hearing testimony from more than 2,000 Canadians. The report found that “Indigenous women and girls are 12 times more likely to be murdered or to go missing than members of any other demographic in Canada – and 16 times more likely to be slain or to disappear than white women.”

On September 1, 1997, Bennett was a 22-year old early childhood education worker student in Alberta, and she remembers having a lot to talk about with her mother, who was living in Fort St. John, B.C.

“I wanted to talk with her about the death of Princess Diana, among other things,” said Bennett. “But on that day, I learned she didn’t come home.”

Her family had to wait 72 hours to file a missing person’s report, and there was a 2-week search that included live media broadcasts from her mother’s living room.

“I remember huge lights, and a controversy over whether there would be more effort made to find her if she had been Caucasian, even though there were a lot of volunteers and dogs, and even helicopters involved in the search,” she said. “We put up hundreds of posters and we sifted through hundreds of messages from people who called a tip line.”

After two weeks, Bennett returned to Alberta as search efforts were called off. About 18 months later, on August 4, 1999, on the day before Bennett’s 25th birthday, her mother’s remains were found.

Bennett says even though the family realized this might be the outcome, and even though finding her mother provided them with closure, the loss of her mother was devastating. At first, she was unsure about how to move forward. Still, because she was married with four children of her own, she knew she had to find a way. She enrolled in a community support worker program in Saskatchewan and began looking for healing experiences for herself and her children.

“I went into what I call ‘mother bear mode’,” she said.

She took her children canoeing, kayaking, rock climbing and camping, signed them up for archery lessons, and other outdoor activities. She began to network, attending ceremonies, signing up for hiking clubs, and going on healing retreats.

“I carried on and I discovered the importance of a self-love journey. I want others to know that the more they can experience joy in doing positive things, the more healing they will find,” she said.

Bennett also looked for learning experiences that could give her additional tools for healing, and she now has many.

“Networking, reaching out and asking for help is important. Other tools include meditation, yoga, ceremony, medicine wheel, grounding, painting, plant medicine, and gardening, and these are just some examples,” she said. “There is also healing in releasing pain through a process called releasing dispatches, where you write what you want to release and then burn it.”

Bennett says seeking positive experiences and adding tools like these has worked for her. She is now in a place where she has peace of mind, and she has become strong enough to be able to tell her story.

“I can say that I feel very happy and grateful, and I have a love for life,” she said. “I can focus on my children, my family and work, and I live a comfortable life.”

She has this message for people who are hurting.

“You are not alone. Reach out, ask for help. There is so much in life waiting for you, and so many people willing to help you.”

Contact Us