Missing and murdered inquiry emboldens those to move forward

Some taking their complaints to police, getting treatment, reuniting with family after sharing story

Some of those who have told their harrowing stories at the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls have since redoubled that courage by taking their complaints to police, getting treatment, or reuniting with family, said the head of the inquiry.

Marion Buller said in an interview with The Canadian Press that the inquiry’s value is that respect is too great to be calculated.

“We are hearing on an individual basis wonderful healing and personal growth as a result of coming to the national inquiry,” she said Friday.

Nearly 100 people had registered to testify at the final set of public hearings being held in Metro Vancouver this week and as many as 300 statements were expected to be gathered, organizers said.

Buller said it has not been easy for survivors of violence and their families to retread old wounds and share their stories, but they remain committed to making the truth known.

“The way they can get up in the morning and go about their daily lives after what they’ve endured, it’s amazing and it speaks to our grace and our strength and our beauty as Indigenous people that we’re still here and thriving,” she said.

Trudy Smith recounted the physical and sexual abuse she endured at a Vancouver Island residential school while testifying Friday.

READ MORE: Traditional medicine helps heal at missing women inquiry

READ MORE: Missing and murdered inquiry emboldens those to move forward

Smith said she wanted to speak out not just for herself, but to demand justice for her sister, Pauline Johnson, whose mutilated body was found by police in Port Coquitlam 33 years ago.

Her sister’s murder remains unsolved, and little information was ever given to the family about the investigation, Smith said.

“There has to be people who are willing to be strong to help us, to solve the cases,” she said. ”I’m not giving up on this.”

Smith said she had the opportunity for some vindication in the 1990s, testifying against one of her abusers, a serial sex offender, who was convicted and sentenced to prison.

“I did fight, and I’m here today,” Smith said. “I just want all our voices to be heard. We have the right to be heard about what happened to us.”

Buller said the inquiry has been an opportunity for those testifying to rewrite history that has long been suppressed in Canada.

Canadians are led to believe that as a nation we are kind and generous, but the truth about our history and treatment of Indigenous people suggests otherwise, Buller said.

Indigenous people have endured hundreds of years of systemic discrimination and racist policies, and the affects are still felt today, she said. Remote communities continue to lack resources such as health care and they experience high turnover of professionals including social workers and police.

The lack of support poses safety risks for the people in those communities, Buller said.

“Now Canadians are learning how Indigenous women and girls have to live in their own country and I think that is critical.”

The number of Canadians that have contacted the inquiry with interest in learning about violence and fear that have plagued Indigenous women and girls is heartening, Buller said, adding that by understanding the past, Canada will be able to move forward.

Linda Givetash, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Vigil re-affirms belief in peace, acceptance in wake of New Zealand massacre

Nearly 100 show up for solemn event at Mir Centre for Peace

Zoning mix-up nixes Shoreacres property sale

Man says the RDCK’s listings online don’t match his property’s official zoning

Castlegar coach receives Basketball BC honour

Cheryl Closkey recognized for 50 years of volunteering

Application deadline approaching for Castlegar-Embetsu exchange program

Student exchange program sees students travel to Japan every other year.

Paramedics union raises alarm over spike in out-of-service ambulances

Staffing shortages affecting service levels in Kootenays

VIDEO: Restaurant robots are already in Canada

Robo Sushi in Toronto has waist-high robots that guide patrons to empty seats

Permit rejected to bring two cheetahs to B.C.

Earl Pfeifer owns two cheetahs, one of which escaped in December 2015

Real-life tsunami threat in Port Alberni prompts evacuation updates

UBC study says some people didn’t recognize the emergency signal

Care providers call for B.C. seniors’ watchdog to step down

The association also asks the province to conduct an audit and review of the mandate of her office

Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from B.C. roaster recalled due to botulism scare

“If you purchased N7 Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from Cherry Hill … do not drink it.”

B.C. man gets award for thwarting theft, sexual assault – all in 10 minutes

Karl Dey helped the VPD take down a violent sex offender

Baby left alone in vehicle in B.C. Walmart parking lot

Williams Lake RCMP issue warning after attending complaint at Walmart Wednesday

College of the Rockies to add 96 beds for student housing in Cranbrook

$17.7 million project featuring six cottege-style buildings to be completed by 2020

Nowhere to grieve: How homeless people deal with loss during the opioid crisis

Abbotsford homeless advocate says grief has distinct challenges for those living on the streets

Most Read