‘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

COVID-19: Northern Health assuring public it has declared no public exposure events or outbreaks

As of Sept. 17, there are 241 cases in the Northern Health Authority region

Single-engine aircraft crashes near Telkwa

Two occupants of the plane sustained minor injuries and were transported to hospital

Cullen announces bid for provincial NDP nomination for Stikine riding

Current MLA Donaldson not seeking re-election

Anne Marie Sam seeks NDP nomination for Nechako Lakes riding

She also ran in 2017 but was defeated by BC Liberal John Rustad

Northern Health records 1st fatality due to COVID-19

Six people died from the novel coronavirus on the weekend, health officials confirm

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

70-year-old punched in the head in dispute over disability parking space in Nanaimo

Senior’s turban knocked off in incident at mall parking lot

Thousands of child care spaces coming to 35 B.C. communities

Province announces milestone in Childcare BC plan

Most Read