Missing and murdered inquiry emboldens those to move forward

Some taking their complaints to police, getting treatment, reuniting with family after sharing story

Some of those who have told their harrowing stories at the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls have since redoubled that courage by taking their complaints to police, getting treatment, or reuniting with family, said the head of the inquiry.

Marion Buller said in an interview with The Canadian Press that the inquiry’s value is that respect is too great to be calculated.

“We are hearing on an individual basis wonderful healing and personal growth as a result of coming to the national inquiry,” she said Friday.

Nearly 100 people had registered to testify at the final set of public hearings being held in Metro Vancouver this week and as many as 300 statements were expected to be gathered, organizers said.

Buller said it has not been easy for survivors of violence and their families to retread old wounds and share their stories, but they remain committed to making the truth known.

“The way they can get up in the morning and go about their daily lives after what they’ve endured, it’s amazing and it speaks to our grace and our strength and our beauty as Indigenous people that we’re still here and thriving,” she said.

Trudy Smith recounted the physical and sexual abuse she endured at a Vancouver Island residential school while testifying Friday.

READ MORE: Traditional medicine helps heal at missing women inquiry

READ MORE: Missing and murdered inquiry emboldens those to move forward

Smith said she wanted to speak out not just for herself, but to demand justice for her sister, Pauline Johnson, whose mutilated body was found by police in Port Coquitlam 33 years ago.

Her sister’s murder remains unsolved, and little information was ever given to the family about the investigation, Smith said.

“There has to be people who are willing to be strong to help us, to solve the cases,” she said. ”I’m not giving up on this.”

Smith said she had the opportunity for some vindication in the 1990s, testifying against one of her abusers, a serial sex offender, who was convicted and sentenced to prison.

“I did fight, and I’m here today,” Smith said. “I just want all our voices to be heard. We have the right to be heard about what happened to us.”

Buller said the inquiry has been an opportunity for those testifying to rewrite history that has long been suppressed in Canada.

Canadians are led to believe that as a nation we are kind and generous, but the truth about our history and treatment of Indigenous people suggests otherwise, Buller said.

Indigenous people have endured hundreds of years of systemic discrimination and racist policies, and the affects are still felt today, she said. Remote communities continue to lack resources such as health care and they experience high turnover of professionals including social workers and police.

The lack of support poses safety risks for the people in those communities, Buller said.

“Now Canadians are learning how Indigenous women and girls have to live in their own country and I think that is critical.”

The number of Canadians that have contacted the inquiry with interest in learning about violence and fear that have plagued Indigenous women and girls is heartening, Buller said, adding that by understanding the past, Canada will be able to move forward.

Linda Givetash, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

GUEST OPINION: Slinging mud and giving to charity

Potters come together to help Sooke charities

Sooke’s under-14 girls squad ready for playoff tests

Sooke team has perfect record so far

Saanich won’t be big in Japan; council rejects potential sister-city relationship

Council also refuses to reimburse former mayor Richard Atwell

MISSING: 34-year-old Lucas Matkowski

Matkowski was last seen by the Victoria Police Department on Dec. 3

VIDEO: Close encounter with a whale near Canada-U.S border

Ron Gillies had his camera ready when a whale appeared Dec. 7

B.C. judge grants $10M bail for Huawei executive wanted by U.S.

Meng Wanzhou was detained at the request of the U.S. during a layover at the Vancouver airport

Salmon, halibut find fishers’ rods

Winter chinook salmon caught consistently at Sooke harbour mouth

Sooke’s Christmas elf

As the Sooke Christmas season heads into full swing, I’d like to… Continue reading

Prosecution in Colin John murder trial wrapping up in Duncan

John on trial for stabbing death in Chemainus in 2016

First Nation sues Alberta, says oilsands project threatens sacred site

Prosper Petroleum’s $440-million, 10,000-barrel-a-day plans have been vigorously opposed by Fort McKay

Famous giant tortoise DNA may hold fountain of youth: UCBO

After Lonesome George’s death he still provides clues to longer life

RCMP ‘desperate’ for clues in case of missing Parksville mom

Carmel Gilmour was last seen more than a year ago

Oogie Boogie, Sandy Claws and coffin sleigh part of B.C. couple’s holiday display

Chilliwack couple decorates their house for the holidays using Nightmare Before Christmas theme

Most Read