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RCMP charges woman’s ex-boyfriend with murder in Conne River death

The Miawpukek Mi'kamawey Mawi'omi First Nation has asked people across the province to wear red or display red in observance of the tragic death of Conne River resident Chantal John, who was killed Wednesday night. On Friday afternoon, a red dress hung outside a home on Beaumont Street in St. John’s.
The Miawpukek Mi'kamawey Mawi'omi First Nation has asked people across the province to wear red or display red in observance of the tragic death of Conne River resident Chantal John, who was killed Wednesday night. On Friday afternoon, a red dress hung outside a home on Beaumont Street in St. John’s. - Joe Gibbons

Kirk Keeping, 35, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of 28-year-old Chantel John of Conne River.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police say they arrested Keeping, who hails from nearby St. Jacques, late Thursday.

Keeping, who is John’s ex-boyfriend, appeared before a provincial court judge in Grand Falls-Windsor via teleconference. He remains in custody, with his next court appearance set for Jan. 30.

Kirk Keeping from St. Jacques has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Chantel John of Conne River.
Kirk Keeping from St. Jacques has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Chantel John of Conne River.

“This is nothing random — they were known to each other,” said RCMP Cpl. Jolene Garland.

In a statement on its website, the Miawpukek Mi'kamawey Mawi'omi First Nation said her death on Wednesday illustrates the ongoing national crisis of murdered and missing Indigenous women.

The First Nation encouraged anyone wishing to show support for John's family to wear red.

Red dresses have become a symbol of murdered and missing Indigenous women in Canada.

Miawpukek Chief Mi'Sel Joe said the entire community is grieving for John, who was a member of Joe's family through adoption.

He described her Thursday as a quiet and respectful person.

“Right now everybody is in a bit of a shock and the whole community is under a dark cloud trying to deal with this tragedy,” Joe said.

In a Facebook post, the First Nation emphasized the impact of John's loss on the community.

“Such violence does not happen in small, rural communities. We are family, we are friends who are trying to deal with the murder of a young Indigenous women,” it said.

It said her death “has hit home that the MMIWG crisis has no boundaries.”

“(Her) death adds to the growing number of Canadian Indigenous women who are disproportionately affected by all forms of violence,” the post read. “Over the coming days and weeks, we will do our best to support and comfort each other as this shock reverberates through our families and community.”

The RCMP’s major crimes section and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner are investigating the death.

Police say more charges are possible.

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