‘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

Just Posted

Sushi, sake and silk kimono

“The Kimono of Ichimaru” opening night at Fernie Museum attracts sellout crowd

Mexico-bound Tour Divide riders complete first day, pass through Fernie

Divide riders looking strong as they finish first leg of 4160 km race

Convicted B.C. child abductor Randall Hopley back in custody, 6 months since release

Correctional Services Canada could not provide further details due to privacy concerns

New society to spearhead ramp building project in Fernie

Gracie Lou Foundation launches to make Fernie more inclusive; ramp building event slated for June 22

GALLERY: Week-long Coal Miner Days a huge success

Skate jam set to become a permanent fixture of Coal Miner Days; other events well attended

VIDEO: Huge crowds gather in downtown Toronto for Raptors parade

Mayor John Tory declares it ‘We The North Day’ after team’s historic NBA title win

Elk Valley Bulls RFC reclaim Kootenay Cup

Elk Valley beats Cranbrook 7-5 to win Kootenay Cup; team off to provincials in September

Federal Liberals’ plan to help first-time homebuyers to kick in weeks before election

Ottawa to pick up 5% of a mortgage on existing homes for households that earn under $120,000 a year

B.C. VIEWS: When farmland protection doesn’t protect farmers

Secondary residences aren’t mansions, families tell Lana Popham

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

Most Read