The Current

'This isn't over': MMIWG inquiry wraps, but much work remains, says sister of missing woman

The end of the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls inquiry does not mean the end of the work to protect vulnerable Indigenous women, according to NDP MLA Bernadette Smith, whose sister has been missing for more than a decade.

Inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls publishes 231 'calls for justice'

A protester at a memorial walk for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, in Manitoba on May 12. (Walther Bernal/CBC)
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The end of the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls inquiry does not mean the end of the work to protect vulnerable Indigenous women, according to a woman whose sister has been missing for more than a decade.

"This isn't over just because this report comes out," said Bernadette Smith, an NDP MLA in Winnipeg.

"There's lots of work that's going to need to be done and a lot of people will need to stand up to ensure it happens," she told The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.

The inquiry heard from more than 2,000 Canadians all over the country over the past three years. Its final 1,200-page report was released Monday, making 231 "calls for justice."

Smith's sister Claudette Osborne-Tyo disappeared in Winnipeg in 2008.

She said her family had to pressure police to investigate, and the media coverage of Osborne-Tyo's disappearance was "dehumanizing."

Ahead of the closing ceremonies, we look back at the MMIWG inquiry. 3:54

"He picture was her mugshot … and the headlines in the media were, 'Aboriginal sex-trade, drug-addicted woman missing' — and you had to really read into the second paragraph to even know who Claude was."

Smith told Tremonti this kind of coverage was "giving people permission, in society, to say things like: 'She deserved what she got, she put herself in that position, just another dead Indian.'"

"This needs to change in Canada, this narrative needs to change," she said.

"It's not an Aboriginal issue. It's not a women's issue. It's a human issue."

Lorelei Williams supports the report's use of the term 'Canadian genocide,' she tells Anna Maria Tremonti. 0:34

To discuss the report and what happens next, Tremonti spoke to:

  • Chantelle Bellrichard, reporter with the CBC Indigenous unit.
  • Lorelei Williams, who testified at the inquiry twice, about the disappearance of her cousin and aunt.
  • Bernadette Smith, NDP MLA in Winnipeg and founder of Drag the Red, a volunteer organization that searches the Red River for clues relating to missing people.

Click 'listen' near the top of this page to hear the full conversation. 


Produced by Alison Masemann, Julianne Hazlewood and Danielle Carr.

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