As more families share, themes, patterns emerging in 1st MMIWG public hearings

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As the long-awaited National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls goes into its second day of public hearings in Whitehorse, patterns and themes are beginning to emerge in families’ testimony.

Many of the dozens of family members who have already participated spoke of the damaging intergenerational effects of residential schools on themselves and their communities.

“That’s an overriding issue and it’s one almost that, from my perspective anyway, should be assumed a factor in all of the stories we hear,” said Marion Buller, the inquiry’s chief commissioner.

‘Not powerless’

Many families also spoke of having had poor relationships with police and other authorities, of not being taken seriously, or ignored.

May Bolton’s mother, Elsie Shorty, was shot dead 25 years ago at her family’s cabin.

Marion Buller

Chief commissioner Marion Buller arrives at the first public hearings of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, underway in Whitehorse. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

“We’ve never even seen the police report, the only thing we know is my grandma was shot,” Bolton told commissioners.

“We have nothing, no knowledge of anything, regarding police and lawyers, no one came to talk to us.”

Buller said that in the next phase of the inquiry, police, coroner’s services and child welfare officials will all appear before the commission.

Although she admits the commission can’t order or force police services to re-open old cases, which many families have called for, it can make recommendations.

“We’re not powerless, in that sense.”

Marion Buller on MMIWG inquiry’s first days2:50

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As more families share, themes, patterns emerging in 1st MMIWG public hearings

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