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

Chilliwack’s Jordyn Huitema wins Sport B.C. award

The honours keep coming for Huitema, who is in the spotlight with Canada’s national soccer squad.

See stunning sights and amazing adventures at mountain film fest in Chilliwack

Discover what’s in our own backyard with the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival tour

Seven Days in Chilliwack

A list of community events happening in Chilliwack from March 18 to 24

Harrison considers future of memorial bench program

Harrison to keep maintaining bench plaques, council seems to feel new benches could be in the future

The complete history of science in one hour at Chilliwack Cultural Centre

We Now Know is a complete history lesson without the boring stuff

B.C. resident baffled about welcome mat theft

Security footage shows a woman and her dog taking the mat from the property on March 13

Father thanks B.C. Mountie for shooting hoops with kids, ‘changing perspectives’

‘We’re just like everyone else,’ says Surrey officer who stopped to play basketball with kids

2019 BUDGET: As deficit grows, feds spend on job retraining, home incentives

Stronger economy last year delivered unexpected revenue bump of an extra $27.8 billion over six years

Trans Mountain court hearing: B.C. says it won’t reject pipelines without cause

Canada says the proposed amendments to B.C.’s Environmental Management Act must be struck down

Carfentanil found in 15% of overdose deaths in January: B.C. coroner

Carfentanil is 100 times more powerful than illicit fentanyl and used to tranquilize elephants

B.C. father fights for his life after flu turns into paralyzing condition

Reisig has lost all motor skills with the exception of slight head, shoulder and face movements.

B.C. wildfire prevention budget bulked up as dry spring unfolds

Night vision goggles tested for early detection effort

Vernon ordered to reinstate terminated firefighters caught having sex at work

City believes arbitration board erred, exploring options

Most Read