A woman whose aunt went missing in Saskatchewan in 2007 said she hopes Ottawa’s national action plan in light of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) inquiry leads more families to answers.
Myrna LaPlante’s aunt, Emily Osmond, went missing in September 2007.
Her family still does not have answers, but LaPlante says she’s seen changes in how police have worked with her and other Indigenous families.
“I have seen improvements with the policing bodies as well as community responses to missing persons compared to when my aunt went missing,” she said.
LaPlante helped found Women Walking Together, a group dedicated to supporting the families.
The national inquiry’s action plan on MMIWG calls for a number of changes. Those include expanding the country’s First Nations Policing Program and to address systemic racism within the RCMP.
One vice-chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) said she wants an all-indigenous policing unit to investigate missing cold cases.
“Right now in our region the trust is not there and it won’t be there for a long time until attitudes and actions begin to change,” said Chief Heather Bear.
The Saskatchewan government says it is investing in supports for victims of violence and abuse, and community partnership programs – along with spending in other areas.
One Indigenous studies professor at the University of Saskatchewan said governments across Canada need to focus on basic issues like housing, a guaranteed income, and national food and daycare programs.
“When we see people’s economic security improve, we guarantee the quality of life will go up for all people,” said Priscilla Settee.
The action plan also calls for a public education campaign on the experiences of Indigenous people.
LaPlante said she thinks that’s needed.
“We have to keep Canadians informed about what we’re faced with and how Canadians can get involved as well,” she said.
“It’s not only us and the government, it’s all Canadians, it’s all levels of government.”
LaPlante said she’s encouraged to see attitudes changing and hopes the action plan leads to even more change.