By Dennis Ward
WINNIPEG – It’s an emotional day for family members of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
Details of the national inquiry set to begin in September were announced Wednesday morning.
Bernadette Smith, who’s sister Claudette Osborne went missing in 2008, said she’s feeling positive.
“I want to have faith in these five commissioners,” said Smith.
Smith, who was fighting back tears during a live broadcast of the event on APTN said she brought her 13-year-old daughter to the event “because I fear for her safety.”
“Just because an inquiry has been called doesn’t mean our pain goes away, that we have answers or that these statistics don’t continue to rise,” said Smith. “There’s still a tremendous amount of work to be done.”
Smith and her family still have no answers eight years after her sister disappeared.
She doesn’t believe people will find closure because an inquiry has been called but she is hoping for changes.
“We dealt with systemic racism on the front line levels with the way our cases were handled with police. We fully expect that to change,” said Smith.
Lorelei Williams was overwhelmed and full of mixed emotions watching the announcment.
In 1977, her aunt Belinda Williams disappeared. Decades later, Lorelei cousin’s DNA was found on the farm of convicted killer Robert Pickton
“People have been fighting for this for so many years and I actually can’t believe it’s happening” said Williams on the live APTN broadcast.
But she also has reservations.
“I find it hard to actually believe them because I don’t trust the government,” she said.
Diane Redsky, the executive director of Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata, an organization on the front lines working to protect Indigenous children and keep families together, called Wednesday a “monumental time in our history.”
“It’s important that we as a nation all rally behind the commissioners and support the work,” said Redsky.
Redsky felt it was also important to acknowledge all the advocates who for decades have pushed for an inquiry.
The final report is to be submitted before November 1, 2018, setting out the commissioners’ findings and recommendations.