March 20, 2018 12:07 am

Vancouver opens support space for families participating in MMIWG inquiry

WATCH: Liberals lay out plan for MMIW inquiry

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The City of Vancouver has opened a temporary support centre for families and survivors affected by the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG).

The inquiry will be coming to the Vancouver-area in April to hold community hearings, and the city says it is opening the Saa-ust centre at 44 East Cordova in order to create a safe space for participants.

Vancouver managing director of social policy Mary Clare Zak says she expects hundreds of people to use the facility.

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READ MORE: ‘It doesn’t end when you bury your child’: Families of MMIWG speak of their pain in Moncton

“Because we’re talking about families, we’re talking about survivors, and families of the heart,” she said. “So people who have friends and acquaintances, all kinds of relatives. So we expect it to be well-used.”

Saa-ust means “to lift up” in Coast Salish, and the city says it will provide services there intended to help with the healing process.

Those include trauma-informed counselling services, a ceremony space and access to elders and knowledge keepers and a variety of arts and cultural activities from First Nations across Canada.

“We’re thankful to see this process underway and coming to the West Coast. We know it’s critically important to many people, all of Canada across the land in dealing with a great tragedy that we’ve been living with for far too many years,” said Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson.

The centre will be open daily form 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. until late April.

READ MORE: MMIW inquiry begins hearing from families in Whitehorse

The MMIWG inquirty began in September 2016, and hearings have been held across the country since then.

Commissioners had hoped to issue a final report by the end of 2018, but are now expected to ask for a deadline extension.

Metro Vancouver’s hearings will take place at Richmond’s Sheraton Vancouver Airport from April 4 to April 8.

-With files from the Canadian Press

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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