The inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG) is starting to get under way, as members of the commission are currently in Whitehorse where they are starting advisory meetings.
On April 12, the Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC) Woman’s Commission hosted a family support gathering for those impacted by murdered and missing indigenous women and girls. In between presentations about grief, trauma and self-care, those in attendance were updated about the state of the MMIWG inquiry by two representatives over Skype.
“We are trying to convene a series of regional advisory meetings,” Tammy Campeau, from the inquiry said.
She said the advisory meetings are being organized to hear from Indigenous communities about how the inquiry should be carried out. Currently, members of the inquiry are in Whitehorse for three days of meetings to coordinate the process in the north.
Campeau said the inquiry is taking a family first approach.
“As much as possible we are trying to be respectful to families as to what their needs are and how their needs need to be met,” Campeau said. “We need to make sure there’s mental health, emotional health, spiritual health and physical health supports available through the whole process.”
In his opening statements, Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron said his organization has always pushed for a family first policy when it comes to an inquiry.
“Their voices first,” Cameron said. “The voices and their direction have to come from our families.”
Karen Snowshoe, a lawyer with the MMIWG inquiry also addressed the crowd of over 100 people at the Senator Allen Bird Memorial Center.
“We’re here to hear directly from families who lost loved ones,” Showshoe said. “We have a very broad definition as to what family means.”
She explained the inquiry is including “families of the heart,” for example those who are adopted or close family friends, as well as survivors as people who can participate.
Hearings into the MMIWG will be called truth finding gatherings where people can share experiences with the commissioners of the inquiry.
Those who wish to participate can do so in public, they can speak with the commissioners directly in private in an “in camera” session, through a statement taker at the truth finding gatherings, or through artwork.
“With poetry, through song, any artistic means,” Snowshoe said. “Here in Whitehorse we have four different family members who will be sharing with us through song, songs in memory of their lost loved ones.”
The MMIWG inquiry is tentatively slated to have regional advisory meetings in Saskatoon between May 16 and 18.
On Twitter: @BryanEneas
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