The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls wraps up in Yellowknife on Thursday afternoon. The inquiry has heard from dozens of people from across the NWT who have lost loved ones to violence or simply do not know what happened to them. Testimony has been heart-wrenching, vivid and sometimes very graphic. One woman testified about how her sister lay dying on the floor of a home while waiting for medical help and RCMP to arrive. The issue of having to call police in Yellowknife in order to have them dispatched to a scene of violence in the communities was one of the themes that came up.
At times, witnesses were very composed talking about the death of their family member. At other times, tears flowed both from the witnesses as well as people watching the proceedings. Silence among community members when it comes to domestic violence was another one of the common themes. People agreed that part of the way to address violence issues is to talk about the problem.
Yellowknife resident and women’s advocate Gail Cyr was among those taking part in the inquiry.
“The event has been very respectful of people,” Cyr said. “It has not been dismissive.”
Speakers were supported by volunteers who were scattered around the hearing room at the Chateau Nova Hotel. There were smudging ceremonies taking place in the room as people were offered comfort and support.
The inquiry is making its way across the country as all levels of government, particularly the feds, try to find out exactly why the rate of violence against Indigenous females is so much higher than it is for non-aboriginal females.
The inquiry ends with the closing ceremonies at 4pm on Thursday.