‘Now the real work begins:’ Families urge action after missing women inquiry report

Indigenous women and families across Canada watched as the inquiry’s final report was released

‘Now the real work begins:’ Families urge action after missing women inquiry report

Anita Ross knew the release of a report into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls would roil up difficult feelings about the untimely death of her teenage daughter, but she hopes opening those wounds will ensure that her other children and grandchildren will be safe.

“Everyday all I wish for is justice for my daughter,” she said.

Delaine Copenace, 16, was found dead in Kenora, Ont., in 2016.

Indigenous women and families across the country watched as the national inquiry’s final report was released during a ceremony and news conference in Gatineau, Que., on Monday. Many said there would only be justice if sharing their stories led to real change.

READ MORE: All Canadians have a role to play in ending MMIW ‘genocide,’ report says

Ross said she felt a sense of relief reading through the 231 recommendations, which are framed as “calls for justice” in the report.

She wanted to go to the ceremony but was disappointed to learn there were no funds to help families travel there.

Ross was the first witness to testify when hearings were held in Thunder Bay, Ont. She described her daughter as loving, patient and artistic. Ross said she was devastated when Delaine’s body was found in Lake of the Woods.

A coroner said there was no evidence of foul play. Ross doesn’t believe her daughter’s death was investigated properly.

She was disappointed Delaine’s name and those of other Indigenous women and girls who have disappeared or lost their lives were not front and centre.

“Basically, they are missing from that report.”

Bernadette Smith, an NDP member of the Manitoba legislature, said the real work begins now.

Smith’s 21-year-old sister, Claudette Priscilla June Osborne-Tyo, vanished from Winnipeg in 2008. The family had received a voice message in which Osborne-Tyo explained she was with a man she didn’t know at a motel and was afraid. Police were quickly called, but the case wasn’t investigated for 10 days, Smith said.

Osborne-Tyo was never found.

Women and families in Vancouver shared stories of their loved ones during a gathering for the report’s release. Lorelei Williams’s aunt, Belinda Williams, has been missing for more than 40 years, and the DNA of her cousin, Tanya Holyk, was found on serial killer Robert Pickton’s farm.

“Today is an emotional day for me,” she said through tears. “So many of us family members fought for this national inquiry. Some of it was good; some of it was bad. Some families couldn’t even testify. It was just too hard.”

Melanie Mark, a First Nations woman elected to the B.C. legislature, sat with her eight-year-old daughter during the report’s release. Mark, feeling a sense of loss, couldn’t sleep the night before because she knew the report would reopen wounds for families across the country.

“We have to acknowledge the trauma people are feeling in this community is really heavy,” she said.

“But I have a sense of hope. I feel like I have no choice but to believe things are going to get better.”

Kelly Geraldine Malone and Amy Smart, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Some parents are concerned with the plans of the Cowichan Valley school district to drop one of its distance-learning options. (File photo)
Cowichan Valley parents upset with loss of remote learning program

School district says program being redesigned

Picture of two swans leaving the Cowichan estuary moments before one was shot out of the sky. (Submitted photo)
Petition to stop hunting in Cowichan estuary after swan shot

Hunters blame shooting on illegal poachers

Volunteer Suzanne Anderson rings her bell at the Christmas kettle at Thrifty Foods on Nov. 20. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Volunteers needed for annual Christmas Kettle Campaign in Cowichan

Money used for Salvation Army’s Christmas Hamper Program

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Okanagan campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. woman loses appeal to have second child by using late husband’s sperm

Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the removal of human reproductive material from a donor without consent

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Krista Macinnis displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
B.C. mom angry that students asked to list positive stories about residential schools

Daughter’s Grade 6 class asked to write down 5 positive stories or facts

B.C. projects targeting the restoration of sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser and Columbia Watersheds will share in $10.9 million of federal funding to protect species at risk. (Kenny Regan photo)
13 projects protecting B.C. aquatic species at risk receive $11 million in federal funding

Salmon and marine mammals expected to benefit from ecosystem-based approach

Barrels pictured outside Oliver winery, Quinta Ferreira, in May. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
B.C. Master of Wine reflects on industry’s teetering economic state

Pandemic, for some wine makers, has been a blessing in disguise. For others, not so much.

Most Read