Saskatoon

'We're on our own': MMIWG national inquiry sparks mixed reaction from Sask. families

As the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls is officially released, one Saskatchewan woman isn't happy with the process and how her family was treated.

National inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls says government failed families

A red ribbon attached to an eagle feather is held up during ceremonies marking the release of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women report in Gatineau on Monday. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

As the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls is officially released, one Saskatchewan woman isn't happy with the process and how her family was treated.

The 1,200 page report contains 231 calls for justice to all levels of government to change a system that has claimed the lives of countless Indigenous women.

While the inquiry crossed the country speaking with family members, some of those people are unhappy with the process.

"We have to be honest, we're on our own to get justice for my sister," said Danielle Ewenin, a community developer with the Kawacatoose First Nation. "They did not find the truth nor did they honour the truth."

Ewenin's sister, Laney, was found frozen to death on the outskirts of Calgary in 1983. Ewenin said her family tried to get access to her sister's police report with little success for years until the family finally received the documents in February.

"The national inquiry had no role in helping us get that," Ewenin said. "We have questions like, 'was it an honest mistake? Was it incompetence?'"

During the inquiry's cross country tour, many families expressed frustration at what they saw as a bureaucratic process. Ewenin was not happy with how she was treated.

"The national inquiry was was run by individuals who were not family members and who were not grassroots people," she said. "It ended up alienating and hurting people and hurting families through its process."

'This is all true'

However, not all families were disappointed in the process.

Darlene Okemaysim-Sicotte is the co-chair of Women Walking Together, a group dedicated to raise awareness about missing and murdered Indigenous women.

She travelled to Gatineau for the ceremony and was especially pleased with the inquiry's decision to use the term genocide to describe the situation.

"When you have experts around the world that have been doing expert hearings on human rights and racism, we have to admit that's what's going on," she said. "That's what's happening. It's very systemic."

Darlene Okemaysim-Sicotte was pleased with the report. (Dan Zakreski/CBC)

While some families are unhappy with the process, Okemayasim-Sicotte said the final report is full of families' stories, and provides a definitive account of the situation.

"We get to have a record of it," she said. "People will have no choice but to see this is all true."

Women Walking Together made multiple recommendations toward the report and said they were incorporated into the final version. 

"A lot of what we put in there is throughout the document in various parts of the text," she said. "We focused on awareness, remembrance and support to families. That's the foundation."

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