Winnipeg teenager Brianna Jonnie, who wrote an emotional letter that implores police, government officials and media to give MMIW cases as much weight as when non-indigenous people go missing, met with Mayor Brian Bowman on Monday.
After her closed-door meeting with Bowman, Jonnie told reporters it went really well, and she thinks changes will be coming, though she didn't elaborate.
"I asked [Bowman] if he would be willing to work with the people I sent my letter to, and of course, his answer was yes and he would love to," said Jonnie. "It was really exciting though that I had the chance to do that."
Jonnie said she didn't expect her letter to get the attention it did.
"I really only thought there would be a letter back saying we would talk about it," she said.
She was encouraged by the mayor's response and was preparing to meet with police at 1:30 p.m. Bowman did not speak to reporters about the meeting.
In her letter, Jonnie, 14, said she believes her case wouldn't be handled with a sense of urgency if she were to go missing, simply because she's indigenous.
If that were to ever happen, she urged police and media to humanize her, not treat her "like another one of them ran away."
She said a discrepancy exists in how cases of missing indigenous girls are treated in comparison to others, such as Cooper Nemeth or Thelma Krull.
"You can do better," she wrote, citing examples of the lengthy gap from when indigenous girls go missing until police or media start reporting on the cases.
Cooper had his image in the paper the next day and Krull was in online reports less than 24 hours after her disappearance, Jonnie said.
Cooper's dad, Brent Nemeth, responded to Jonnie with his own letter, in which he said police didn't put more emphasis on Cooper's case.
It was family, friends and community that rallied, spearheaded the searches and chased the leads, he said.
He expressed heartbreak about how Jonnie feels but also said her letter "takes us five steps back" in bridging relations with the First Nations community by encouraging another generation to believe in a racist way of thinking.
Jonnie told reporters she hadn't read the letter by Nemeth yet.
When pressed on the case, she said, "I didn't think it was racism that had to do with this matter at all."
Her mother, Amanda McCormick, quickly added that Jonnie didn't write letter to attack or blame anyone — just to find solutions.
"It is the way we talk when an indigenous girl goes missing. It takes a community to raise our kids. Our kids are the future of our community. I think that's what she was trying to say," said McCormick.
She said her daughter acknowledges it isn't just police or politicians who affect search efforts and attention to MMIW cases.
McCormick called the meeting with Bowman "very positive."
"The mayor is a father himself, and he did a really good job talking to Brianna as a 14-year-old girl but respecting her opinion at the same time," McCormick said.