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Niece of missing Saskatchewan woman hopes MMIWG action plan make positive impact

Click to play video: 'Niece of missing Saskatchewan woman hopes MMIWG action plan make positive impact' Niece of missing Saskatchewan woman hopes MMIWG action plan make positive impact
WATCH: Myrna LaPlante said she's noticed a change in how police, and the public, react to missing Indigenous women and girls compared to her aunt's disappearance in 2007 – Jun 3, 2021

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.

Read more: Emily Osmond’s family still wonders what happened 13 years after her disappearance

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.

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LaPlante helped found Women Walking Together, a group dedicated to supporting the families.

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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.

Read more: Here’s the 1st steps Canada plans to take in light of the MMIWG inquiry

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.

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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.

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“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.

Read more: MMIWG plan calls for public education campaign, funding for survivors

“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.

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