Three-day inquiry into missing, murdered Indigenous women begins in Membertou, N.S.
The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls began with opening ceremonies on the Membertou First Nation, N.S., Sunday.
The three-day inquiry started with a day of both ceremony and sadness as community members gathered to show their support for the families and friends left without answers.
The crowd walked in solidarity from the former Mi’kmaq grounds in Sydney to Membertou, along with some preparing to delivery testimony in the coming days.
President of the Nova Scotia Native Women’s Association, Cheryl Maloney, says testifying at the inquiry will be one of most challenging feats of their lifetime for some speakers.
“The turmoil and the mental preparation that's needed can't be explained enough,” she says. “To get these families to this day and to go forth and be prepared for tomorrow is one of the hardest things they've ever had to do.”
Members in a canoe honoured their ancestors with a water ceremony on Sydney Harbour, each by practicing traditions that represent all of the spirits and walks the Mi’kmaq have been taking for hundreds of years.
“Mostly in the last 25 we've been walking asking people to understand and hear our prayers about trying to find resolutions for these families of the missing and murdered,” says organizer, Catherine Martin.
Trish Johnson was in attendance with her family to remember her sister Cheryl-Anne who never came home from a night out with her friends and died at 23-years-old.
“When they say it's an accident, you want to believe it,” Johnson says. “I did my own investigation and I found out a lot more than they did.”
While Johnson notes that she’s not an investigator or police officer, she believes she has more information than officials do. She hopes that her sisters case can one day be reopened.
Johnson says for now she will be her sister's voice when she speaks at the first day of the inquiry Monday.
The inquiry will also mark the first time it has been held in a First Nations community.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kyle Moore.