December 8, 2015 | CBC Staff Writer | CBC News
Lorelei Williams was brought to tears when she heard a national public inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women is really going to happen — and family members like her will be part of the process.
“I can’t believe this is actually happening,” said Williams in the CBC Vancouver newsroom as she watched Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennet make the announcement Tuesday.
Williams’ aunt, Belinda, went missing in 1977 and the DNA of her cousin, Tanya Holyk, was found on serial killer Robert Pickton’s farm.
“We have been fighting for this for so long, and it’s got me very emotional.”
In Winnipeg, Hilda Anderson-Pyrz,whose sister Dawn Anderson died in 2011, is optimistic that the government plans to consult families of missing and murdered women and investigate root causes.
“I think it’s very empowering and it’s very hopeful to indigenous people across Canada that this government is actually hearing what our people have been saying for years.”
In B.C., families of victims walked away from Commissioner Wally Oppal’s inquiry into missing and murdered women. They said at the time that the scope was too narrow and they weren’t given proper input.
Last month, a coalition of advocacy groups — which Williams is a member of — urged the Trudeau government not to make the same mistakes.
In Tuesday’s announcement, Minister Bennett said the national inquiry’s first step would be consulting with families, followed by national aboriginal organizations and service workers.
“I really like when they say it has to be a collaborative collective approach in order to be successful,” said Anderson-Pyrz. “To me, those are very powerful statements that have been made today.”
The government has also said it is willing to include root causes of poverty and marginalization in aboriginal communities in the scope of the inquiry — something Williams and others have been asking for.
“This is happening because of our history, with residential schools, colonization,” said Williams. “Our women are [seen as] ‘disposable,’ and that is one of the reasons why we are targeted.”
“We need to prevent this from happening.”