Manitoba

MMIWG inquiry visits Winnipeg, Sagkeeng to hear from families of missing and murdered

A team of health workers, lawyers and community relations officials are in Winnipeg and Sagkeeng First Nation this week to hear more from families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls ahead of hearings this fall.

Visit is beginning of a dialogue, says lead counsel for inquiry Christa Big Canoe

RCMP have previously estimated that 1,200 Indigenous women and girls are either missing, murdered or both in Canada. Others, including the Native Women's Association of Canada, have suggested the figure could be much higher. (CBC)

A team of health workers, lawyers and community relations officials are in Winnipeg and Sagkeeng First Nation this week to hear more from families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls ahead of hearings this fall.

"The biggest goal is to establish a relationship so that any of families and the survivors can see who we are," said Christa Big Canoe, a lead counsel for the commission.

Officials will on Tuesday head to Sagkeeng, located about 100 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg. Meetings with survivors and family of MMIWG will take place Wednesday through Friday in Winnipeg.

A CBC News investigation previously revealed Sagkeeng has the highest rate of unsolved MMIWG cases in all of Canada.

The inquiry has been shrouded in controversy and criticism since it launched in August 2016, with a commissioner and several high-ranking staffers, including the executive director, resigning recently amid calls from Indigenous leaders that the entire process needs a restart.

Big Canoe said she and other officials are here to answer questions about the inquiry process and present various options for families in terms of how they wish to tell their stories of loss and tragedy.

Sagkeeng First Nation is about 100 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg. (CBC News Graphics)

Another aspect of the visit entails gathering information from families in order that lawyers with the inquiry can begin filing subpoenas to access case files associated with various disappearances and deaths. Big Canoe said the visit is the beginning of a dialogue that will continue throughout the course of the inquiry.

"It's not like we just come in for one visit and then don't see them until the hearing," Big Canoe said. "We continue to work with the families up until the hearing."

The inquiry has already made similar stops in other Canadian jurisdictions.

Hearings in Manitoba are slated to take place this fall.

Corrections

  • Only one commissioner has resigned from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. An earlier version of this story said several commissioners had resigned.
    Jul 25, 2017 7:49 AM CT

With files from Jill Coubrough

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