Whitefish River First Nation woman to work for families during MMIW inquiry

The Ontario government has hired a special advisor to help families during the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women. Maggie Cywink of Whitefish River First Nation will be filling that role and, in a way, will be representing herself.

National public inquiry set to begin May 29 in Whitehorse

Maggie Cywink, originally from Whitefish River First Nation, has been hired as a special advisor on missing and murdered Indigenous women by the Ontario government. (Facebook )

Maggie Cywink will be wearing two hats when the long-awaited public inquiry into the deaths and disappearances of Indigenous women and girls starts next month.

The Whitefish River First Nation woman has been hired as a special advisor by the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General to support the some-200 families in the province whose loved ones are on the list of cases the inquiry will look into.

Cywink's sister Sonya is on that list.

She was killed in 1994 in London, Ont., after getting "mixed up with the wrong people," Cywink said.

Cywink added that the case is still being investigated, so not all the details of the investigation have been shared with the family.

But she said part of her new job with the province is making sure families get all the information that they're entitled to that comes out during the inquiry.

"Really knowing what the families need from us in terms of what we're able to give the families: police investigations, court proceedings, coroner investigations," Cywink said.

'I don't want it to be a waste of our time and our money'

The first hearing in the national inquiry is scheduled to take place in Whitehorse on May 29, but there's no word yet if any subsequent ones will be in northern Ontario.

There have been many delays in getting to this point, which Cywink said has been very frustrating for the families.

"When you get to the point where you feel like 'OK, they're ready to move forward, let's do this,' it seems there's a roadblock and it's heartbreaking," she said.

Cywink added that she is hoping the public inquiry will come up with a "concrete" list of recommendations and actions to keep Indigenous women out of danger in the future and that governments will commit funding to make it happen.

"I hate to say this word, but I have to say I don't want it to be a waste of our time and our money," she said.