Family of Happy Charles addresses MMIWG inquiry

By Bryan Eneas
July 28, 2017 - 5:00pm

The family of a missing woman from Prince Albert were extended an invitiation to meet with the commissioners of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) in Regina.

Carson and Regina Poitras made a trip from their home in La Ronge to Regina, Sask. to speak about their daughter Happy Charles, who has been missing for almost four months. Poitras said he and family members of missing or murdered Indigenous women were part of a meeting with two commissioners from the MMIWG inquiry.

“We sat together and shared our stories, shared what didn’t work, what did work, tried to draw to some conclusions in going forward, what has to happen, the resources that are needed,” Carson said.

Carson said it was “sad” the inquiry could find money for many meetings and administrative costs, but couldn’t find money to support the families who are still searching.

He said his family built a comprehensive list of items they required, the funding and support they had received in the search efforts so far and recommended the inquiry provide help to families searching.

The recommendation came in part from his family’s experience. He said he and his family were unprepared to cover the expenses which came up when Happy went missing.

“That’s not fair. It’s a lot of energy. It’s a lot of time. A lot of time we don’t know [what we need],” Carson said. “We’re not searchers. We still [say] we’re searchers, our family, but we had to become searchers because of what we had to learn along the way.”

Regina spoke directly with Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett. She said she felt as though Bennett was genuine in her concern for the wellbeing of the families who lost loved ones.

“They listened to us, they listened to our individual stories, our hardships. Every family in that group,” she said. “We asked for a monument [for missing and murdered indigenous women], and they’re going to bring that forward… we want that placed in Ottawa.”

The couple was also given the opportunity to address the Assembly of First Nations Chiefs, who gathered in the Queen City for the 38th annual assembly.

Carson said he was part of the vote which decided the fate of the commissioners and the inquiry. Chief Dustyhorn from Kawacatoose stepped aside, and let Carson cast a vote in his place.

“I was glad that we happened to be [at the AFN assembly] and were able to have a voice, to have more than one chief from another reserve and support us, and give me his proxy,” he said. “Albeit it wasn’t our chief, but we got the support from a lot of the southern chiefs.”


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