Back in January, an Indigenous woman walking in her residential neighborhood in Thunder Bay, Ontario, was struck with a trailer hitch thrown by a white man from a passing vehicle. Months later, she’s been told by doctors she will die from her injuries.
Barbara Kentner required surgery after her stomach was hit with the trailer hitch. Since then, she hasn’t fully recovered from her assault.
“Her belly always fills with fluid and it’s attacking her kidneys,” Melissa Kentner, her sister who witnessed the incident, said to CBC. “Now those are failing.”
Doctors have said there is not much more they can do to help Kentner, and she has since left the hospital to be with her family.
“She is going to die from this thing that happened to her,” her sister told CBC. “No one should ever have to go through it.”
The 18-year-old white man who threw the hitch has only been charged with aggravated assault. Police did not investigate the incident as a hate crime because, according to a spokesperson for Thunder Bay police, “no comments … made any reference to race or ethnicity.”
But Indigenous community members think otherwise.
Kentner told CBC News she believes it was a hate crime, and so does Anna Betty Achneepineskum, the deputy grand chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation.
“They said, ‘Oh I got one,’ they’re referring to wanting to harm someone, an Indigenous person — it’s a hate crime,” Achneepineskum explained to CBC.
Too many Indigenous people, including herself, she added, have been hit with flying food from passing cars in Thunder Bay. This incident, however, appears to be an escalation of the violence.
“These people really meant to hurt someone and that’s really disturbing,” Achneepineskum said.
Last month, a solidarity walk was organized by the Indigenous community in support of Kentner.