Family frustrated over lack of answers in Teresa Robinson homicide
Alternative policing needed to solve homicides of Indigenous women and girls, says Sheila North Wilson
Eight months after 11-year-old Teresa Robinson was found dead in Garden Hill, her family and the community are no closer to finding out who killed her.
After finding partial remains of her body in May 2015, RCMP initially thought Robinson had been mauled by an animal, but later confirmed they were investigating her death as a homicide.
"It has taken a toll in the community and it's been hard this past Christmas to remember what happened and try to deal with it and come to terms with it", said Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Sheila North Wilson.
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Robinson's mother Sandra said the family has not received any updates from the RCMP since the summer.
When Teresa was reported missing in the beginning of May, hundreds of volunteers from Garden Hill, surrounding Manitoba and Ontario First Nations, Winnipeg and Brandon came to help with the search. They scoured the community and even dragged the river with a burned-out mattress and fish hooks.
North Wilson said after months of not knowing who killed the little girl, and with no recent contact with RCMP officials, frustration is mounting.
"The leadership is not afraid to start putting pressure on the RCMP for more answers, but I think the patience is getting a bit thin a the family deserves answers and certainly this girl's death deserves justice."
RCMP Sgt Bert Paquet said Robinson's case remains an active investigation, but because of that, there are no significant updates that officers can share at this time.
"Like many other cases, the lack of updates provided by us certainly does not reflect the efforts, time and energy spent on each of our ongoing investigations," Paquet said.
Paquet also defended the force saying investigators do have regular contact with the families of ongoing investigation.
"Although for the families involved, these contacts are never often enough. Having said that, we won't discuss publicly the content of our conversation or what update was provided," Paquet said.
'Third police agency' should be called in, North Wilson says
Earlier this year, the new Liberal government agreed to hold a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Officials are now working with family members to decide what the inquiry will look in to and how it will be run.
But North Wilson wondered if it will be enough.
"There is a huge level of frustration and family members are looking towards other processes that they can rely on including talks of private investigators, not just in Garden Hill but in others [communities]. It's leading to thinking that a third police agency must be called for in situations like this."
She said in addition to RCMP and urban police forces like the Winnipeg police, there should also be authorities who are specially trained in First Nations communities to tackle the crimes of murders of women and girls and to search for those missing. She said it could be similar to tribal police or special band councils.
North Wilson said she will be meeting a former RCMP officer in the new year to discuss the potential of a third tier of police.
There are close to 1,200 missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls missing in Canada. A CBC News investigation into MMIW found that many family members do not trust the RCMP or local police forces to find their loved ones or solve their murders.
- Families of missing and murdered indigenous women give police a failing grade
- CBC MMIW special project
North Wilson said many communities end up relying on themselves to do the heavy lifting, they feel police should be responsible for.
"The resilience and the love that people have for each there [in Garden Hill] and the leadership is really helping, but right now there are no answers to what happened to Teresa Robinson."