“Everyone I know has been touched in some way, or know someone who has been affected”.
FSIN Vice Chief Heather Bear says as the national inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls arrives in Saskatoon this week for a 3 day community hearing at least 65 people are scheduled to tell their stories of family members who have gone missing or have been murdered, and how it’s affected their lives.
She says some of these families have been dealing with the loss of a loved one for years or even decades, and now they have a chance to convey their feelings to a national inquiry.
Bear says she has personally been affected by the issue.
When she was 15 years old her brother’s friend went missing and was never found. And later in her life, one of Bear’s friends was fatally shot in the head in Regina.
Bear says those people were, “friends that I enjoyed, and they were good people and loving people. Their lives were valued.”
The inquiry has come under scrutiny as it continues across the country. One of the members of the five-member commission stepped down in July, after four staff members of the inquiry left the job a month earlier.
Bear says it’s important these commissioners realize how important the hearings are.
She says, “it’s critical, it needs to happen, and it’s of the utmost importance. It’s critical for our people because at least it’s a starting point once they’re done, and when the report comes out, and when these realities become known and acknowledged, and funds are tied to fix it. We need to reactivate that healing foundation in a big way.”
This is the first of three community hearings in Saskatchewan. Two others are set for February and in the spring, but a date or location has not been determined.