Krista Shore unpacks a hand drum in a Saskatoon hotel room above the hearings for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

She begins to sing as she waits to testify.

Shore was not on the inquiry's schedule — so she pushed her way in.

"I look at this as coming here and being able to leave stuff here," Shore said. 

"Leave stuff here for my own self so I don't carry it around, and things aren't so heavy for me anymore."

Krista Shore and her grandmother talking to police.

Krista Shore and her kookum — grandmother for the word Cree — talk to police after her mother was found dead in 1996. (CBC)

Shore was 12-years-old when her mom, Barbara Ann Shore, was murdered in 1996 at a Regina home. 

Twenty-one years later, Shore said she still carries the pain and trauma from that event. 

'I've been told all my life to just wait'

"It's a part of my journey to come up here and to stand tall for my mom," Shore said.

"To stand up for my mom as her daughter. I'm her only living daughter."

Shore said she contacted the inquiry a few weeks before the hearings started to schedule a public hearing, but never heard back.

Undeterred, she came anyway with her kokum — the Cree word for grandmother — on Thursday, the last day of testimonies in Saskatoon, to demand answers. 

"I've been told all my life to just wait. To be told shush," Shore said. 

"They did not schedule me in. They should've. This is not appropriate."

Barbara Ann Shore and her son and nephew.

Barbara Ann Shore with her son and nephew. (Submitted to CBC)

The response from Shore, and other families and survivors, has been overwhelming for the commission. More witnesses are registering to testify than expected. 

Demand growing 

But what stands out in Saskatoon is that families fought for their time to be heard by refusing to stick to tight timelines to give testimony, or to leave before their stories were told.

"Nobody told my mom to just wait. Nobody gave my mom an appointment to die," Shore said. 

"She was stolen from me. She was taken and they're [commissioners] here in my territory where I belong. Where my roots are ingrained in this land here, and I look at this honestly as part of my ceremony."

The inquiry has been preparing for a growing number of witnesses, according to chief commissioner Marion Buller. 

It has staff who can take down statements from people who drop in or put them on a wait list.

Indigenous people share their pain at MMIWG inquiry3:10

Buller said the commission tries to squeeze in as many families as possible since many do not want to travel to other locations to testify. 

"We don't want them to have to wait," Buller said.

"We work through our lunches if we have to. We're that committed to families and survivors"

'Deserve a place at the circle'

Shore eventually got a private hearing on Thursday evening with Buller, after pressing the commission all day. 

The conversation lasted for an hour and a half. 

Shore said she left feeling content because Buller was very respectful, kind and did not shut her down.

But the dynamic changed when she was preparing her aftercare plan with health workers because she said she could see the frustration on their faces that she had caused with their schedule — not exactly the experience she was hoping for. 

Barbara Ann Shore poses for a family portrait

Barbara Ann Shore poses for a family portrait. (Provided by family)

Shore said all families need to have their voices heard, and on their terms. 

Commissioners leave Saskatchewan with this message as they move on to collect other stories and recommendations across the country, in the hopes of finding ways to prevent systematic violence and injustice against Indigenous women and girls. 

"I deserve a place at the circle and — where I come from — everyone has a place at the circle," Shore said.

"We should be met with our efforts and supported that way."