Lynette Daley 11j - Legal Degradations: Lynette Daley and Cindy Gladue


Legal Degradations: Lynette Daley and Cindy Gladue

‘Cindy Gladue was a mother. Cindy Gladue was a daughter. Cindy Gladue was a Cree woman. Cindy Gladue was a human being regardless of her profession as a sex worker. Using her vagina as evidence dehumanizes her. Privacy interests do not end at death and there is nothing more private than the intimate body parts of a woman.’

Christa Big Canoe,  Cindy Gladue suffered her last indignity at murder trial

‘With more than 1,200 missing and murdered Indigenous women, there is compelling reason to focus on the violence Barton inflicted on Gladue, understanding it as a part of a history of the sexual brutalization and attempted annihilation of Indigenous women.’ 

Sherene Razack, ‘Gendering Disposability’ 2015


Lynette Daley’s violent death is mirrored by that of Cindy Gladue in Edmonton, Canada. Both Indigenous women bled to death after violent sexual assaults perpetrated by white men. The perpetrators in both cases characterised these assaults as ‘rough sex’ despite both women being unable to provide consent at the time. Cindy Gladue, like Lynette Daley was objectified and dehumanised in news reports and subsequently by the criminal injustice system.

During the 2015 trial of Bradley Burton for Cindy Gladue’s murder, which was littered with references to Cindy as ‘a native’ and ‘a prostitute’, she was subject to the gross indignity of her dissected vaginal tissue being used as evidence in the courtroom. As lawyer, Christa Big Canoe wrote, ‘Cindy died four years ago. Her body is not whole in its resting place. In any other context this could be seen as desecration of her remains, but in this judicial process it is called preservation of evidence. It is simply horrific. It appears that the court did not contemplate Cindy’s dignity, death rites, or any indigenous perspective on caring for the dead.’

At the end of the trial Burton was acquitted. The Crown appealed the decision and the Supreme Court in May 2019 decided it would ‘allow the appeal in part and order a new trial on unlawful act manslaughter.’ Lawyers and advocates have articulated concerns over how her family will cope with another trial that offers no guarantees.


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