Ottawa

Aunt of missing Kitigan Zibi teen applauds MMIWG recommendations

The aunt of an Indigenous teenager who disappeared from her home on a reserve near Maniwaki, Que., more than a decade ago is applauding the recommendations contained in the final report of the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls inquiry.

Maisy Odjick and Shannon Alexander disappeared from Kitigan Zibi reserve 11 years ago

Maria Jacko says police were slow to act after her niece, Maisy Odjick, was reported missing in 2008, along with another teen from Maniwaki, Que. (Ashley Burke/CBC News)

The aunt of an Indigenous teenager who disappeared from her home on a reserve near Maniwaki, Que., more than a decade ago is applauding the recommendations contained in the final report of the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls inquiry, delivered Monday in Gatineau, Que.

"They are all calls to action and to recognize that Indigenous women really matter and deserve equality," said Maria Jacko, whose niece, Maisy Odjick, has been missing along with Odjick's friend, Shannon Alexander, since September 2008. 

Odjick, who was 16 at the time, and Alexander, who was 17, were last seen at Alexander's home in Maniwaki.

The report, entitled Reclaiming Power and Place, describes the murder and disappearance of an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 Indigenous women and girls as "deliberate race, identity and gender-based genocide," Marion Buller, chief commissioner of the inquiry, said Monday.

Maisy Odjick was 16 when she disappeared, one of an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada. (Supplied by family)

Better police training

The report calls on the federal government to adopt more than 200 recommendations including cultural sensitivity training for police and the creation of a national plan to ensure equitable access to safety, employment and health care.

We need culturally competent policing here and all across Canada, because we are marginalized and not important enough.- Maria Jacko

Jacko created a website a month after Odjick and Alexander disappeared in an effort to get information about the teens.

"Why should we have to do that when that's the job of the police?" Jacko asked. "We need culturally competent policing here and all across Canada, because we are marginalized and not important enough." 

Jacko also applauded a recommendation calling for a crisis team approach whenever an Indigenous girl or woman disappears.

Both the Sûreté du Québec and local police were slow to respond to the teens' disappearance, Jacko said.

"In our case there was no police action for two weeks, and that speaks volumes," she said. "If there was even an Amber Alert or something like that I know Maisy and Shannon would have been found." 

Just over a decade ago, Maisy Odjick and her best friend Shannon Alexander went missing after attending a dance in Maniwaki. This afternoon, Maisy's aunt joins me in studio to take a look at some of the 'calls for justice' released today from The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls inquiry. 13:03

Jacko said police need better training, particularly in places like Kitigan Zibi. 

"Getting police trained better is monumental."

Jacko's website has attracted dozens of tips, but so far none of that information has helped located the two.    

"With each year that goes by, just who is looking for them now?" Jacko asked.