North

Work on MMIWG inquiry a difficult journey for Yukon man

A​ ​Yukon sound and video company owner says recording and archiving the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls was something he will never forget.

Mark Penner's company recorded sessions of the national inquiry across the country

Mark Penner's Whitehorse company, Solid Sound, was hired to record testimony during the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. (Submitted by Mark Penner)

A​ ​Yukon sound and video company owner says recording and archiving the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls was something he will never forget.

Mark Penner owns Solid Sound Reinforcement in Whitehorse. His company was hired to provide sound and video recordings during the inquiry, and over the last two years Penner's company recorded the testimony of more than 1,500 families and survivors.

"Ten hours a day, 15 hours a day, listening to survivors and their stories. And there was no turning on the mute button. There was no turning down the volume. There was only listening to every word," Penner said.

Starting in 2017, the inquiry held 24 hearings and events to gather statements across Canada. Those events were attended by more than 2,380 Canadians, including family members of missing and murdered women and girls, survivors of violence, Indigenous knowledge keepers, experts and officials.

"We did a lot of traveling it was like a ping-pong match, we went back and forth. We would go to the West Coast, to the East Coast, back to the West Coast, back to central Canada," Penner said.

He says being on the road for more than 200 days a year took its toll on him and his crew, but listening to the stories of families and friends losing their loved ones was truly difficult and heart-wrenching. 

"It was hard to hear about the abuses and the atrocities that often happened at the hand of men, because of men against women," Penner said.

"It was hard to be a man and hear that these women had to suffer at the hands of mostly males."

Penner's company recorded the testimony of more than 1,500 families and survivors. (Submitted by Mark Penner)

'Extraordinary' courage

The MMIWG inquiry started in Whitehorse on May 30, 2017, and its final report was released in June 2019.

"It took a lot of guts for these survivors and family members to open up. It was an extraordinary amount of courage," said Penner.

He says his therapy to deal with the emotion of the hearings was through Indigenous healing provided by the communities he visited.

"I want to give credit to the inquiry staff though — to the commissioners, to grandmothers, to the medicine woman and medicine men, that we worked with daily and that we would run into again and again on the road," Penner said.

"I think the biggest thing we could take away from this is that there's a lot of healing to be done out there."

Solid Sound Reinforcement was hired to provide sound and video recordings during the inquiry. (Submitted by Mark Penner)

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