The province will support families and communities through the emotional challenges expected when the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls comes to Nova Scotia next month.
“The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls will be painful and challenging for many Indigenous families in our province,” said Justice Minister Mark Furey, today, Sept. 7. “The federal government and Nova Scotia are doing everything we can to ensure Indigenous women and their families are kept informed and supported through what we know will be a difficult time.”
In partnership with the Nova Scotia Native Women’s Association and the federal government, three community outreach specialists who have experience in dealing with trauma have been hired to provide cultural support to families and community members until March 31, 2019.
The positions are funded by the federal government and co-ordinated through the province’s Family Information Liaison Unit within the Department of Justice’s Victim Services.
The unit, developed with community input, provides a place for families to obtain information and updates on the inquiry, and about cases involving their loved ones. The services offered by the unit also benefit families and community members not participating in the inquiry.
“During the inquiry, it is integral that families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls are supported in finding information about their loved ones,” said Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. “These Family Information Liaison Units are part of government’s commitment to helping affected families with the supports they need and to advance reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.”
“I am very pleased that the Province of Nova Scotia has listened and worked with us to provide culturally appropriate and culturally delivered services for families and communities of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls,” said Cheryl Maloney, president of the Nova Scotia Native Women’s Association. “We have an established relationship with communities and families and the liaison unit is a welcome addition.”
The three-year federal funding agreement, announced by the federal government last year, will provide the province with $790,000 until March 31, 2019. It covers the costs for the unit including co-ordination of information gathering for families, the outreach specialists, assistance for therapeutic supports for family members of victims, and administrative expenses. The investment will also help provide community cultural supports such as smudging, prayers and sweat lodges.
“The liaison team has been very supportive to our family,” said Vanessa Brooks, whose sister Tanya was killed in 2009. “I feel they were very much an essential part throughout this process of bringing our sister’s last remains home, and being able to finally lay her to rest after eight long and painful unanswered years. I only wish my mother was alive today to see this amazing team.”
The Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women and the Office of Aboriginal Affairs are playing significant roles supporting families.