APTN National News
A Nunavut woman who has lost one family member to murder and has another missing says that the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls is hurting the people it’s supposed to help.
“I would say it has retraumatized us,” said Janet Brewster. “It’s bringing up those old traumas. The hardest thing is really not knowing. We’re not being given the opportunity to fully understand.”
In 2004, Brewster’s Aunt Sylvia Lyall was murdered in her Iqaluit home by a common law partner she was attempting to leave. The case languished for years in Nunavut’s overcrowded court system. The man convicted received 10 years credit for the five years he spent in custody before the trial, and is free today.
In 2010, Brewster’s cousin Angela Meyer went missing in Yellowknife. Meyer was on a day pass from a mental health facility when she disappeared from her family and has never been found.
One missing, another murdered.
For Brewster and her family, the process of the inquiry drags up old feelings, specifically one.
“It feels much the same as the court process, it’s very difficult to have your voice, or her voice heard in the process,” said Brewster.
Families like Brewster’s are feeling the delays the inquiry has encountered.
There are no Inuit members of the commission, the one public meeting still on the schedule is in Whitehorse and the idea of regional advisory meetings has been dropped.
Despite having a spousal murder rate 13 times the rest of Canada, there is no MMIW meeting scheduled for Nunavut. The shifting sands under the inquiry are hurting Brewster’s family.
“Because this has been such a confusing process, we’ve had to have a number of conversations about this, which has been really difficult. It’s difficult to open up those wounds and to continue to have open discussions when we’re running into barriers. What happens, people shut down, people stop responding,” explained Brewster.
She said her family that has been through a court process in the death of a loved one, and these inquiry delays and false starts bring her right back to their time in court.
“These delays essentially are triggers. When you go through a court process, as many families have whose women were murdered, and you seek that justice, in Nunavut especially, it can be years of court proceedings. Between the court proceedings, there is often weeks and months between appearances,” she said.
“You have some days where you feel like giving up. Does it really matter what we say or do, because we’re not convinced that we’ll have an impact.”
The inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls is supposed to table a report this November but a media release by the inquiry Friday said that deadline will likely be tough to make.
Brewster hopes the families involved out will take care of themselves and each other during the process.
“It’s really important for us to support each other. We all may feel alone, but there are thousands of people going through the same thing,” she said.