‘Now the real work begins:’ Families urge action after missing women inquiry report

Indigenous women and families across Canada watched as the inquiry’s final report was released

Anita Ross knew the release of a report into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls would roil up difficult feelings about the untimely death of her teenage daughter, but she hopes opening those wounds will ensure that her other children and grandchildren will be safe.

“Everyday all I wish for is justice for my daughter,” she said.

Delaine Copenace, 16, was found dead in Kenora, Ont., in 2016.

Indigenous women and families across the country watched as the national inquiry’s final report was released during a ceremony and news conference in Gatineau, Que., on Monday. Many said there would only be justice if sharing their stories led to real change.

READ MORE: All Canadians have a role to play in ending MMIW ‘genocide,’ report says

Ross said she felt a sense of relief reading through the 231 recommendations, which are framed as “calls for justice” in the report.

She wanted to go to the ceremony but was disappointed to learn there were no funds to help families travel there.

Ross was the first witness to testify when hearings were held in Thunder Bay, Ont. She described her daughter as loving, patient and artistic. Ross said she was devastated when Delaine’s body was found in Lake of the Woods.

A coroner said there was no evidence of foul play. Ross doesn’t believe her daughter’s death was investigated properly.

She was disappointed Delaine’s name and those of other Indigenous women and girls who have disappeared or lost their lives were not front and centre.

“Basically, they are missing from that report.”

Bernadette Smith, an NDP member of the Manitoba legislature, said the real work begins now.

Smith’s 21-year-old sister, Claudette Priscilla June Osborne-Tyo, vanished from Winnipeg in 2008. The family had received a voice message in which Osborne-Tyo explained she was with a man she didn’t know at a motel and was afraid. Police were quickly called, but the case wasn’t investigated for 10 days, Smith said.

Osborne-Tyo was never found.

Women and families in Vancouver shared stories of their loved ones during a gathering for the report’s release. Lorelei Williams’s aunt, Belinda Williams, has been missing for more than 40 years, and the DNA of her cousin, Tanya Holyk, was found on serial killer Robert Pickton’s farm.

“Today is an emotional day for me,” she said through tears. “So many of us family members fought for this national inquiry. Some of it was good; some of it was bad. Some families couldn’t even testify. It was just too hard.”

Melanie Mark, a First Nations woman elected to the B.C. legislature, sat with her eight-year-old daughter during the report’s release. Mark, feeling a sense of loss, couldn’t sleep the night before because she knew the report would reopen wounds for families across the country.

“We have to acknowledge the trauma people are feeling in this community is really heavy,” she said.

“But I have a sense of hope. I feel like I have no choice but to believe things are going to get better.”

Kelly Geraldine Malone and Amy Smart, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

CGL must revise impact assessment on Unist’ot’en Healing Center

Environmental Assessment Office not satisfied with report’s shortcomings

Trudeau: Time for blockades to end and Indigenous leaders to work with government

Prime minister says situation in Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute is ‘unacceptable and untenable’

Confusion surrounds terms of RCMP withdrawal from pipeline construction area

B.C. Deputy Commissioner clarifies terms of agreement following minister’s statements

Stop checks, searches of Wet’suwet’en pipeline opposers unlawful: Watchdog

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs file complaint

Wet’suwet’en pipeline supporters speak up

“Protesters get one side of the story and they stand up with their fists in the air.”

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Tyler Toffoli scores twice, Canucks crush Bruins 9-3

Stecher, Miller each add three points for Vancouver

Zamboni driver, 42, earns NHL win over Maple Leafs

Emergency goalie called into action for Carolina Hurricanes

Governor general says multiple solutions needed for ‘complicated’ overdose issue

Julie Payette met at a fire hall with firefighters and police officers as well as politicians and health experts

Landlord ordered to pay $11K after harassing B.C. mom to move days after giving birth

Germaine Valdez was pressured to move just a few days after giving birth by C-section to her child

Heart attacks strike B.C. husband and wife just over one year apart

Courtenay couple share personal stories to bring awareness to heart month

‘Nothing surprises us anymore:’ U.S. border officials find brain in package

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents found the brain packed in a glass mason jar in a Canada Post shipment

B.C., Ottawa sign sweeping 30-year deal for northern caribou habitat

West Moberly, Saulteau co-manage new protection on two million acres

Eyes on police after Trudeau orders blockades torn down, injunctions enforced

The RCMP in B.C. have sent a letter to the traditional leaders of the Wet’suwet’en Nation

Most Read