'My only goal is to get justice': Sue Caribou heads to MMIW inquiry's 1st family advisory circle
Caribou’s niece, Tanya Nepinak, went missing from downtown Winnipeg in 2011
Sue Caribou will be sharing the stories of her family who have been murdered or disappeared in Manitoba at the first meeting of the family advisory circle in Toronto with the missing and murdered Indigenous women inquiry this week.
Caribou's niece, Tanya Nepinak, went missing from downtown Winnipeg in 2011. Convicted killer Shawn Lamb was charged in her death in June 2012, but the charges were later stayed.
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Caribou said seven people in her family have been murdered and two are still missing. The impact has left family members with health and addiction problems, she said.
"My only goal is to get justice for my family and I wanted my voice to be heard," she said.
"I'm losing a lot of family that passed away without knowing, without having a closure. It's causing a lot of health problems with my family and myself, I had two mild heart attacks because I am so overwhelmed with my family missing and unsolved cases."
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'I am already disappointed'
Caribou will join other families from across Canada identified by inquiry organizers as being "at the forefront of pushing for an inquiry," a spokeswoman for the inquiry said.
The two-day meeting is intended to give Caribou and others a chance to advise commissioners on how hearings should be carried out as part of the inquiry's "family-first" process, she added.
Caribou was also involved in the pre-inquiry meeting in Winnipeg last year. She said it was disappointing because families were only allowed 10 minutes to tell the stories of their loved ones.
"Now that 10 minutes to me was a slap in the face, an insult," she said, adding it wasn't nearly enough time to talk about how her family has been impacted.
While she is not particularly sure what to expect at the family advisory circle, she was only invited to it recently and wasn't given much information, she is not optimistic.
"I am already disappointed and I'm not even in Toronto," she said. "I'm disappointed that they didn't allow me to bring support, my own support, somebody that I know, that I feel comfortable with."
Caribou asked if she would be able to bring Bernice Catcheway, the mother of Jennifer Catcheway who disappeared in 2008. But Caribou said she was told she would be coming alone.
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Prepared to share her story
Caribou will be in Toronto from Monday to Thursday and said she will be advocating not only for her own family, but all the families in Manitoba who have been impacted.
This time, she said, there better not be a flash card telling her that 10 minutes is up.
"I hope they do listen to the stories very carefully, not have a flash card on how much time you have to speak about your loved ones," she said.
"Even if they have that flash card I am going to speak as long as I want. I am going to take down notes so I can share with the family here when I get back and share it with them at the Thunderbird House."
Families of victims have said they have been left in the dark by the commission.
A media spokesperson with the inquiry told CBC News in an email that the family advisory circle is not public, but information will be posted on their website after.
At the first press conference for the inquiry, commissioners said the inquiry would begin sometime in the spring.
The federal government officially launched the $53.8-million independent inquiry last August. Commissioners are expected to submit an interim report in fall 2017 and a final report by the end of 2018.
With files from Holly Bernier