Family members 'don't believe in inquiry' after MMIW meetings postponed - APTN NewsAPTN News

Family members ‘don’t believe in inquiry’ after MMIW meetings postponed

(Charmaine Desa, also known as Gina Hele with her daughter Jacqueline in 1988. She was murdered in 1990 and her killer has never been found. Photo courtesy of the family.) 

Brandi Morin
APTN National News
Colleen Cardinal was set to fly out to Edmonton from Ottawa this week for regional advisory meetings by the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

But the meetings were abruptly postponed last Thursday. The commission said in a statement it needs more time to be ready for future meetings with families.

“I don’t believe in the inquiry,” said a disappointed Cardinal. “I want to…but there’s so much work to be done.”

The meetings were being held across Canada to seek out input from survivors and families leading up to family hearings set to start at the end of May.

Cardinal has a vested interest in the inquiry. Her sister and sister in law were both murdered.

It’s been almost 30 years since Cardinal’s sister was found dead at a park near downtown Edmonton. Charmaine Desa, also known as Gina Hele, was 20 when she died after being beaten.

Police said she was murdered by a man she met at the park where she was buying pot.

She was married and a mother of two.

Cardinal’s sister-in-law Lynn Jackson was found dead in a ditch in Wetaskiwin, Alta., in 2005. RCMP have labelled her death as “suspicious,” but have no information about her killer.

Cardinal said she met Waneek Horn-Miller, the director of community engagement for the inquiry in Ottawa at a similar meeting. Horn-Miller invited Cardinal to participate in the Edmonton meetings and said all of her expenses would be paid.

Cardinal said she just happened to call Horn-Miller last week to inquire about logistics when she was told the event wasn’t happening.

“I was told it was postponed because families complained it was too short notice and too close to Easter,” said Cardinal who said it sounded more like an excuse and not a good enough reason to put the meeting off.

She had already been feeling anxious about the inquiry, even though it’s something she hoped would happen for many years now.

The postponement has made her misgivings worsen.

Paul Tuccaro was planning to fly to Edmonton from his home in Fort Chipewyan, in northern Alta., to attend the meeting on behalf of his sister Amber Tuccaro.


Amber Tuccaro. Photo courtesy of the family.

Amber disappeared in August 2010 during a trip to Edmonton. Her skeletal remains were found two years later in a field near Nisku, just outside the capital city. Her murder remains unsolved.

Tuccaro said it took some time to prepare emotionally to attend the meeting and that even his mother was too upset to go.

“It’s all confusing,” he said about the postponement. “It’s overwhelming. Now imagine all the other people that were planning to go. It’s getting them thinking of their lost loved ones. Now we’re having all these feelings brought up (of our loved ones) only to be told it’s put off until further notice?”

Every day is a roller coaster ride for Eva Potts since her sister Misty Potts went missing in March 2014. Misty was last seen on highway 43 located near her home at Alexis First Nation, Alta.

Eva Potts feels left in the dark she said she didn’t even know about the inquiry meetings.

“I’m really confused about what’s going on,” she said after learning about the meetings on Monday from APTN.

Eva does what she can to keep alive the efforts to find her sister. She has helped to keep Misty’s face in the media and keeps in contact with RCMP on a regular basis for updates on the case.

She said had she known about the meetings, she would’ve gone. Anything to help find her sister.

With the postponement of the meetings she feels it’s important for the inquiry to put together a better communication system for families.

And supports need to be put in place for families impacted by the ups and downs of the inquiry process.


Misty Potts. Photo courtesy of the family

“We’re already hurting on the inside and not everybody knows how to deal with that. The pain can destroy you,” said Eva.

She plans to attend the inquiry meetings when they come back to the area if she is made aware of the details.

Meetings scheduled in Thunder Bay this week were also postponed. There is no word on when the meetings will be rescheduled.

Regional advisory meetings were held in Wendake, QC, Ottawa, Montreal, Alton, Ont., Vancouver and Whitehorse.

The inquiry was launched in September 2016 and commissioners are expected to deliver an interim report in November 2017. The final report is due in November of 2018.

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3 Responses to “Family members ‘don’t believe in inquiry’ after MMIW meetings postponed”

    Darlene April 19, 2017 at 4:56 am #

    Tonite members of SAWCC and Iskwewuk Ewichiwitochik sat down to work on Database sharing in Sask – we believe in the Inquiry – one territory doesn’t over ride another on wanting the Inquiry to have sole voice — other regions are making things work ~~ have faith, Darlene R. Okemaysim (currently have a missing niece) been doing this work for 11 years as volunteer ad hoc concerned citizen in Saskatoon

      Alana Watson April 20, 2017 at 12:29 pm #

      A database? What is to be put on this database, what information? This is personal information, and highly delicate information to lost loved ones. I wouldn’t want any of my family on this database!
      Information sharing is fine but most of our lost family members have suffered tremendous pain and suffering. It would be an injustice in every aspect to the victim and family. Please explain.

    Gin April 18, 2017 at 7:38 pm #

    it is a difficult task to have interviews f. 1200+ cases in the allotted time frame for anybody to attempt. I’d highly recommend sending in your information with emails, scanned letters + documents, slide shows, filled only with key points. Questions will arise and then more time is needed for answers. I believe a majority of these cases most likely lead back to shoddy work and not – interested or other poor attitudes, by police. Discrimination was far more rampant against FN peoples in the past and allowed.