Dozens of people gathered at Odena Circle at The Forks Sunday night demanding a state of emergency be declared to stop the hurt and trauma for more families in the future.
This comes after police charged a Winnipeg man with first-degree murder in the deaths of Morgan Harris, Marcedes Myran and Rebecca Contois, as well as that of a woman yet to be identified who elders are calling “Buffalo woman.”
“We have to come here over and over again for these tragic events,” Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Garrison Settee said.
First Nations Chiefs in Manitoba say they’re frustrated with a lack of action after another tragedy involving Indigenous women.
As some wonder what can be done, chiefs say the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls has answers.
“It is collecting dust and it’s up to the governments to take it off the shelf,” Settee said.
The 2019 final report on MMIWG had 231 calls for justice and laid out four ways to get there. It includes addressing intergenerational trauma, social and economic marginalization and institutional lack of will, in addition to empowering the expertise of Indigenous women and girls.
“Sit down with us; let’s work on this together,” Settee said. “We have the solutions but we don’t have the resources and if they want us to do the job for them we will – just give us the resources. We’ll do it.”
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Marc Miller says despite significant investments, last week’s tragedy shows there is more to be done.
“No one can stand in front of you with confidence to say this won’t happen again and I think that’s kind of shameful,” Miller said.
Miller says they need to keep addressing some systemic problems.
“Whether it’s reform child and family services, whether it’s the work we need to do to keep Indigeneous women and children physically safe by building more shelters, getting those out quicker than they’re going out now, making sure there are 24-hour safe spaces,” Miller said.
But until significant changes are finally made, the constant grieving process just continues for those who have lost loved ones.
“It’s so sad and it breaks my heart as the grand chief of AMC (Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs), as a mother, as a grandmother, as an auntie, that our young First Nation women are being taken where they would have had long lives, where they would’ve been able to have their families, been able to be loved,” Cathay Merrick said. “Their families loved them, their communities loved them.”