APTN National News
Marlene Jack is threatening court action against the anti-inquiry coalitions to keep the Murdered and Missing Women and Girls Inquiry on track.
The woman with a missing sister said the commission picked up steam in Smithers, B.C., in September and should not be derailed.
“I have looked into legal advice around a class-action lawsuit against the coalitions that want to stop it,” Jack said from Vancouver Thursday.
“I don’t want to see ‘a hard re-set’ and have to start over.”
Jack is still emotional after speaking publicly about her missing sister and nephews at the MMIWG Inquiry hearing.
It is suspected they disappeared in an industrial part of Prince George in 1989.
“There’s been no justice, no investigation. The police are at a dead-end. They are waiting for some hunter to stumble across their remains.”
Jack said the inquiry is not perfect – far from it. But she says she felt heard and supported and wants other family members to have the same opportunity to share their stories.
“I was afraid but I had to do it for my sister. It was really hard; it was huge for me to talk about it,” she said. “When I was done I felt like I was floating or really high. The trauma was leaving my body.”
The hearing in Smithers, on Hwy 16, more commonly known as the Highway of Tears, was the second of nine public hearings scheduled for 2017.
The next one in Winnipeg is scheduled to begin Oct. 16.
Jack said she’s been offered funding for counselling and now wants to embrace healing.
It’s something every MMIWG family member and survivor should have the chance to experience, she said in a telephone interview.
Bernie Williams agreed.
The long-time woman’s advocate from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is supporting Jack’s potential legal challenge.
“It went extremely well,” she said of the Smithers hearings.
“The protocols… the cultural components of it was done so amazingly.”
Williams said the health support team on site stayed focused on families and that contributed to positive feedback from participants.
“It was hard to sit in those meetings but through it all I thought it was just very well done,” she told APTN’s Juanita Towtongie on Wednesday’s InFocus.
“I heard from a lot of family members that once they did tell their story they were relieved, and that they felt a weight coming off their shoulders.”
Both women believe the inquiry should proceed despite the glitches, resignations and national criticism.
“One family shared after 46 years,” said Gladys Radek, whose niece disappeared in the same area as the Jack family in 2005.
“I’m glad families felt comfortable in that environment.”
This is not the first time pioneers in the MMIWG movement have defended the $53.9-million exercise that began in September 2017 with a two-year mandate.
But it is the first time a legal threat has been made against coalitions in various provinces that claim to have the families’ best interests at heart.
One of those coalitions is in Winnipeg and has been very vocal, with members calling for a re-start with a new slate of commissioners.
“I was one of the ones at the beginning who did not want to support this inquiry,” said Williams, who lost three sisters and her mother to murder.
“I had a little glimmer of hope (last week), so it’s my prayer to the families nationally to give this process a chance.”
They have invested too many hours of walking, talking and demonstrating to turn back now, added Jack.
“I’ve been trying to get justice since 1989. I want this to be the beginning, not the end.”
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