MMIWG families in Saskatchewan to hold first-of-its-kind conference

Families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls are hosting a three-day conference in Regina, the first of its kind.

'When we come together and share our lived experiences it brings a comfort and solace'

Danielle Ewenin talks to media as she announces the MMIWG conference in Regina. (Ntawnis Piapot/CBC)

In the first meeting of its kind, families of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls will gather at a conference in Regina next week. The three-day event will include sharing between families and talks from children of missing and murdered Indigenous women.

The event is called Mamawe! Mekowishwewin miyomachowin: Being Together Gives us Solace.

For Danielle Ewenin, the conference is personal. Her sister Eleanor (Laney) Ewenin was found dead outside Calgary in 1982 at age 23. The case remains unsolved and Ewenin, who believes police mishandled it, continues to fight to keep it alive. 

As one of the organizers of the conference set for Nov. 8 to 10, Ewenin says the response from other MMIWG families has proven a need for this type of event. She said it's important the conference is done by families for families because they are their own best experts.

"This is an effort by a group of families that had wanted to bring the families together because when we come together and share our lived experiences it brings a comfort and solace." 

Currently there are 274 family members registered, including 148 children of missing or murdered women. There are also another 20 families on a wait-list. Organizers hope to get more funding to be able to accommodate more families. 

Ewenin said organizers have reached out to all 74 First Nations bands in Saskatchewan to ask for a donation of $3,000. To date only six bands have contributed. Ewanin says if 30 bands donate they would be able to include the families on the wait-list.

The conference is being put on in partnership with the Regina YWCA and the All Nations Hope Network. Over the three days there will be space for families to talk about the future, their shared experiences and to discuss how to move forward.