(Agnes Gould is holding up a picture of her missing sister, Virgina Sue Pictou during a ceremony held for the opening of the MMIWG inquiry on Membertou First Nation, NS. Photo: Tom Fennario/APTN)
Out of her purse, Agnes Gould pulls out some sheets of paper – on the front is the agenda for the upcoming hearings for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls taking place this week in Membertou First Nation, NS.
The Mi’kmaw woman flips them over, and their backs are crammed full with handwritten notes.
“We’re trying to just come up with a timeline of what we’ve all done,” said Gould, gesturing to her two brothers and father.
“We’ve started jotting down little notes, here and there, of what our family has gone through to find our sister.”
Gould’s sister, Virgina Sue Pictou, was last seen in an emergency room in Maine on April 24 1993.
They’ve scoured the country looking for her ever since.
“After 24 years, we’re still looking. It’s hard on us as a family,” said Gould, a member of Membertou.
Gould and her family will be testifying Wednesday at the inquiry.
She said they will speak about how Virgina’s case went cold when the detective in charge of the file retired – of how she left behind a nine-month-old baby, and of how her disappearance is far from unique.
“We want awareness of how big the situation is. Not only for us…we are just one story out of a thousand,” said Gould.
(Cheryl Maloney lobbied the government for years to call a national inquiry. Photo: Tom Fennario/APTN)
Cheryl Maloney is the president of the Eastern Door Indigenous Women’s Association, an organization that represents Aboriginal women across the Maritimes.
“Now that the day is here we want it to be successful, we want it to be safe for the families, we want it to succeed,” Maloney said.
However, Maloney said she’s well aware of the problems the inquiry has faced since it’s debut, including several high profile resignations.
“I’m not saying nothing’s wrong with it, I’m saying our job is to always support the families, and this is just one more extension of supporting the families,” Maloney said.
“For all the years I spent calling for an inquiry, I hope that they can get it right, I hope that we can change things up.”
For Gould and family, the hope is it can lead to some measure of closure.
“A little bit of relief for us would be good, just being able to say the last time I saw my sister was ‘this time’, right? To be able to say for sure, ‘The last time I saw my sister I remember her beautiful smile, I remember how good she cooked fried chicken’,” said Gould.
“But I don’t see her today, I don’t get to say, ‘Hey sis, did you hear about your granddaughter graduating from kindergarten. It’s really sad that way, but the reality is that she’s missing. ”
MMIWG inquiry commissioners Michèle Audette and Qajaq Robinson will be listening to the testimony of approximately 40 people over the course of three days, starting Monday at 9 am.
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