Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) Grand Chief Sheila North Wilson is hoping to see a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls called in the first 100 days of Justin Trudeau’s time as prime minister.
North Wilson, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) Grand Chief Derek Nepinak and Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Manitoba regional Chief Kevin Hart gathered at a news conference Tuesday morning to congratulate Trudeau on the Liberal’s majority win.
North Wilson said she looks forward to working with the new Liberal government and is eager to see Trudeau fulfil his campaign promise to call a national inquiry.
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“This is something that’s near and dear to our hearts and to my heart,” she said.
North Wilson said it’s crucial to take a deeper look at why Canadians are seeing epidemic numbers of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.
“We want families to be involved in the framework of what the national inquiry would look like,” said North Wilson. “There are many things that we’re hearing from our own families of why they see these problems. A lot of it has to do with poverty and lack of education and even just a complete disregard for our people and our families and that just can’t be anymore.”
North Wilson credits the commitment of women, men, teens and children who have been working to draw attention to the issue.
“They were relentless in holding vigils and ceremonies on our streets where women were found,” said North Wilson. “They were relentless and they brought out leaders and they brought out media. Sometimes there was only three people at a vigil, but they still held it.”
Outgoing Prime Minister Stephen Harper had refused to call an inquiry, despite repeated calls to do so.
AMC Grand Chief Derek Nepinak said of all campaign promises made in this election, a commitment to hold an inquiry stands out as the most important to him.
“I think that Canadians recognize that there is a tragedy, there’s a national crime that’s happening on the streets of the cities and towns, communities across the nation,” said Nepinak.
Nepinak said he wanted to thank all Canadians who rallied together to bring the issue to the forefront.
“It’s not us versus them, it’s only us.” said Nepinak. “All those Canadians who saw this as an issue and went out to vote in a different way this time around, thank you so much for doing that.”
Nepinak believes involving families, as well as creating healing mechanisms for those affected, is vital to ensuring an inquiry has a meaningful impact on people’s lives.