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Families of missing, murdered women fear being left out of inquiry
Sue Caribou is concerned that not all families who want to participate in the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls will get to do so.
Last week, she received a fax from the inquiry. She said it was the first contact she’s had in a month.
“Reading this, I already feel like I am going to be hammered, like, be victimized,” she said.
She said had given all her contact information when she was in Toronto last month for pre-inquiry meetings, and was told she would be kept informed.
Since then, she describes the process as confusing and riddled with broken promises.
"I feel like a victim and my loved one is getting no justice," she said.
Nine members of Caribou's family are considered missing or murdered, including her niece Tanya Nepinak.
Her family is one of around 1,200 in Canada with a similar story. She would like to see every one of those stories documented.
"I believe strongly that all the families’ stories are very important and everybody should be able to share their stories with the commissioners," she said.
She would like to have seen all of the families automatically registered to take part in the upcoming hearings.
Right now, a spokesperson for the inquiry told CTV News there are 147 families that have voiced their interest to take part, adding families do not need to register, but they do need to reach out to the inquiry in some way to make sure they are included.
Pre-inquiry meetings were held by Indigenous and Northern Affairs. It said all the information collected was transferred to the inquiry, but because many families participated anonymously, privacy rules prevented their personal information from being shared.
With the first interim report due in November, indigenous activist Leah Gazan said it should be the government reaching out to families to take part, not the other way around.
"This heavy kind of bureaucratic process that their making families go through, I think, is certainly not trauma-informed," Gazan said.
Despite the rocky start, Sue Caribou isn't giving up. She's sharing all the information she gets, hoping everyone searching for justice for their lost loved ones can find it.
The Manitoba region of the Assembly of First Nations is holding an outreach session Thursday for families who want to participate in the national inquiry.
It’s being held at the Victoria Inn (1808 Wellington Ave.) from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Representatives from the inquiry commission are expected to be there.