People rally outside ‘Kamloops’ court as Curtis Sagmoen set to appear: ‘We’re there for all women’

Content warning: This story contains details about Canada’s epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and Two-Spirit people. Please be gentle with your spirit and read with care.

More than a dozen people rallied outside of a courthouse in Secwepemcúl’ecw on Thursday as Curtis Sagmoen, a notorious Okanagan-based man with a history of violence against women, was set to make an appearance.

Sagmoen was scheduled to appear in the Kamloops court on June 20 on two counts of possession of a firearm contrary to order. His lawyer was present online for the hearing, but just like his previous court date on June 6 for the same allegations, Sagmoen was nowhere to be seen. His next appearance is now booked for July 15.

Drummers sing during a rally denouncing violence against women outside of Kamloops Courts in Secwepemcúl’ecw on June 20. Photo by Aaron Hemens
Drummers sing during a rally denouncing violence against women outside of Kamloops Courts in Secwepemcúl’ecw on June 20. Photo by Aaron Hemens

Sagmoen’s past convictions involving assaults against women in the sex trade and speculations about his family’s farm have led to anti-violence advocates keeping a close eye on his court appearances and highlighting his violent history.

Janet Enoch helped to organize the rally this week, as people equipped with hand drums, red dresses and signage to honour missing and murdered women called for justice.

Drummers sing during a rally denouncing violence against women outside of Kamloops Courts in Secwepemcúl’ecw on June 20. Photo by Aaron Hemens
Drummers sing during a rally denouncing violence against women outside of Kamloops Courts in Secwepemcúl’ecw on June 20. Photo by Aaron Hemens
A community member smudges drummers outside of Kamloops Courts in Secwepemcúl’ecw on June 20. Photo by Aaron Hemens
A community member smudges drummers outside of Kamloops Courts in Secwepemcúl’ecw on June 20. Photo by Aaron Hemens

“We’re not going to stop until Curtis is behind bars for a good length of time,” said Enoch.

“Because while he’s out, he’s just a danger. He’s a danger to any women.”

Drummers sing during a rally denouncing violence against women outside of Kamloops Courts in Secwepemcúl’ecw on June 20. Photo by Aaron Hemens
Drummers sing during a rally denouncing violence against women outside of Kamloops Courts in Secwepemcúl’ecw on June 20. Photo by Aaron Hemens

Sagmoen was convicted with one court of assault in 2020 after ramming a woman, who he had hired for sex, with an ATV. He was convicted on another count of assault in 2019 for another attack on a sex worker, and on a firearms offence that same year for an incident involving him pointing a gun at a woman he had hired.

In 2017, the remains of 18-year-old Traci Genereaux were found on Sagmoen’s parent’s farm, which led to a massive RCMP search of the property and investigation. Sagmoen has not been charged in connection with her death.

“(Genereaux’s) going on seven years — almost 3,000 days — of nothing,” said Enoch.

“We actually just spoke with her mother. She’s usually the one that has to contact police and find out what’s going on. Nothing new — nothing new. It’s crazy.”

A community member holds up a sign honouring Traci Genereaux outside of Kamloops Courts in Secwepemcúl’ecw on June 20. Photo by Aaron Hemens
A community member holds up a sign honouring Traci Genereaux outside of Kamloops Courts in Secwepemcúl’ecw on June 20. Photo by Aaron Hemens

Enoch told IndigiNews that the purpose of the gathering was to not only condemn Sagmoen, but to amplify concerns around violence against women in “Canada” and the “United States.”

In “Winnipeg,” Jeremy Skibicki recently confessed to killing four Indigenous women two years ago and disposing of their bodies after committing horrific acts of violence against them. A verdict is pending. Meanwhile, advocates in “B.C.” are trying to save the remaining evidence in the Robert Pickton murders from being destroyed after the notorious serial killer recently died.

Signage honouring Missing and Murdered Indigenous women are placed outside of Kamloops Courts in Secwepemcúl’ecw on June 20. Photo by Aaron Hemens
Signage honouring Missing and Murdered Indigenous women are placed outside of Kamloops Courts in Secwepemcúl’ecw on June 20. Photo by Aaron Hemens

There have also been several other high-profile cases of missing women in the Okanagan, such as Cree mother Caitlin Potts, who was last heard from in 2016.

“We’re there for all women, not just Indigenous women,” said Enoch.

To show their support, the Battered Women’s Support Services’ team and their Elders hosted their own solidarity rally in “Vancouver.”

Drummers are pictured during a rally denouncing violence against women outside of Kamloops Courts in Secwepemcúl’ecw on June 20. Photo by Aaron Hemens
Drummers are pictured during a rally denouncing violence against women outside of Kamloops Courts in Secwepemcúl’ecw on June 20. Photo by Aaron Hemens

In “Kamloops,” as people honoured Genereaux and other women, community members called for the protection of trans and Two-Spirit lives. They placed signs around the courthouse entrance on Thursday, with messages that included: “No more stolen sisters,” “Justice for MMIW (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women)” and “Is your sister next?”

Signage honouring Missing and Murdered Indigenous women are placed outside of Kamloops Courts in Secwepemcúl’ecw on June 20. Photo by Aaron Hemens
Signage honouring Missing and Murdered Indigenous women are placed outside of Kamloops Courts in Secwepemcúl’ecw on June 20. Photo by Aaron Hemens

Red dresses were hung up on trees and parking posts throughout the building’s exterior. Community members held up signs that read, “She is someone,” “You are not forgotten” and “Sex work is work” as drummers honoured victims with music including with the Women’s Warrior Song.

Throughout the rally, the group chanted slogans such as “Shame on Canada,” “No more stolen sisters,” “Justice for Traci,” and “Gone but not forgotten.”

Janet Enoch hangs red dresses up on a tree to honour Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit people (MMIWG2S) during a rally to stop violence against women outside of Kamloops Courts in Secwepemcúl’ecw on June 20. Photo by Aaron Hemens
Janet Enoch hangs red dresses up on a tree to honour Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit people (MMIWG2S) during a rally to stop violence against women outside of Kamloops Courts in Secwepemcúl’ecw on June 20. Photo by Aaron Hemens

“We’re there for Traci. We’re there for other missing and murdered ladies who can’t speak for themselves,” said Enoch.

According to Enoch and other community members present, they were confronted by courtroom sheriffs on June 6 for hosting a similar demonstration outside of the courthouse during Sagmoen’s scheduled appearance that day.

Enoch said that the sheriffs had allegedly taken issue with the red dresses hung up outside, as well as the signs strewn throughout the ground, which they called a tripping hazard.

Community members hold up signs honouring missing and murdered women outside of Kamloops Courts in Secwepemcúl’ecw on June 20. Photo by Aaron Hemens
Community members hold up signs honouring missing and murdered women outside of Kamloops Courts in Secwepemcúl’ecw on June 20. Photo by Aaron Hemens

“It’s almost like they’re threatened. Our red dresses, to us, are for the spirits — for the women who can’t be there,” she said.

“It’s really hard because we have young girls and younger allies showing up, because they feel strongly about it too. But when they get there and they get harassed by sheriffs like that, we’re in the wrong.”

IndigiNews observed a courtroom sheriff inspecting the demonstration on June 20, but no confrontations occurred.

Drummers sing during a rally denouncing violence against women outside of Kamloops Courts in Secwepemcúl’ecw on June 20. Photo by Aaron Hemens
Drummers sing during a rally denouncing violence against women outside of Kamloops Courts in Secwepemcúl’ecw on June 20. Photo by Aaron Hemens

Enoch said that the group will continue to be present for Sagmoen’s court dates — regardless of whether he shows up — to raise awareness and to denounce violence against women.

“We’re going to keep doing it until we can’t do it anymore,” she said.

“We’re not garbage. We’re not supposed to be thrown away in landfills. We’re human beings and we need to be treated as such.”

A drummer raises their stick in the air during a rally denouncing violence against women outside of Kamloops Courts in Secwepemcúl’ecw on June 20. Photo by Aaron Hemens
A drummer raises their stick in the air during a rally denouncing violence against women outside of Kamloops Courts in Secwepemcúl’ecw on June 20. Photo by Aaron Hemens

Aaron Hemens, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, IndigiNews