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

Summerland council voting on pay raise

Increases would take effect Jan. 1

Oliver to get new sheriff from graduating class

Oliver will be one of a number of B.C. communities to get a member of the recent graduating class

Out to pasture at the Freak’n Farmer

The annual “fun” event at Covert Farms put on by the Covert family and HooDoo Adventures

Couple of cruisers crammed in Penticton

Penticton RCMP officers and voluteers collected food and money for the Salvation Army Food Bank

Rodgers visits animals at Ontario wildlife sanctuary

Summerland-based musician a supporter of several animal sanctuaries

Weekday weather update

A look at your Okanagan-Shuswap weekday weather for Sept. 24

Edmonton cannabis company revenues more than triples to $19.1 million

Aurora Cannabis revenues more than triple in fourth quarter

B.C. pharmacist suspended for giving drugs with human placenta

RCMP had samples of the seized substances tested by Health Canada

Seattle one step closer to NHL after arena plan approved

Seattle City Council unanimously approved plans for a privately funded $700 million renovation of KeyArena

Harvest Moon to light up B.C. skies with an ‘autumn hue’

It’s the first moon after the autumn equinox

Hockey league gets $1.4M for assistance program after Humboldt Broncos crash

Program will help players, families, coaches and volunteers after the shock of the deadly crash

Don’t feed birds in the parking lot

Vernon wildlife control services owner says feeding ducks and geese, or any wildlife, is bad

Canada has removed six out of 900 asylum seekers already facing U.S. deportation

Ottawa had said the ‘overwhelming majority’ had been removed

Most Read