Members of the MMIWG national inquiry health team at the Winnipeg hearings. (CBC) The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls has come under fire from many directions, but some of the harshest criticism is coming from family members who have spoken at the hearings to date.
They say aftercare — follow-up emotional and mental health support for the people testifying about losing their loved ones — is inadequate.
CBC News spoke to families across the country who have attended hearings about their aftercare and this is what they had to say. Whitehorse
Lorelei Williams travelled to Whitehorse from Vancouver six months ago to be by her friend’s side while she shared her story of surviving violence at the hands of a former partner.
She said her friend didn’t know she could give testimony when the hearings came through town, so Williams helped her get connected with the inquiry staff at the last minute so she could have her story included.
It was a fast and emotional process, Williams recalls.
"She was having a really hard time with it. It was so hard because she reopened her wounds," said Williams.
One thing that added to that hard time was figuring out what kind of aftercare would be available after the inquiry team left town. Williams said at one point, a woman who they assumed worked for the inquiry approached them and told them her friend would be eligible to receive 12 free counselling sessions.
After that conversation she said they tried to track the woman down but nobody seemed to know who or what they were talking about.
"So we don’t even know if she was involved with the inquiry or not. Like we had no idea. That upset [my friend] more because she really wanted those sessions," she said.
Williams said when she flew back to Vancouver she continued to check in with her friend to see how she was doing and would ask if she had heard from anyone at the inquiry to see how she was doing.
Six months later, Williams says her friend hasn’t heard from inquiry staff and has received zero aftercare.
"Just today I asked her again and she said ‘Nothing, there’s nothing,’" said Williams.
"It was as hard process for her, being a survivor, retelling her story … she thought this would be a part of her healing journey." Winnipeg
It’s been one month since Barb Houle shared her daughter’s story to commissioner Michèle Audette at the Winnipeg hearing.
Cherisse Houle was 17 when she went missing and was found murdered in 2009.The mother sat through all five days of the public hearings to show her support for other Manitoba families."It was very heartbreaking all the time but I tried to sit there because I know what they’re going through, so if they need my support, I’m there."Houle said one day the testimony was more than she could handle and she ran out of the room in tears."I felt so overwhelmed because I was by myself and just thinking about my daughter," she said."Not one person came out and asked me what was wrong. There was a bunch of [health support workers] sitting there. I thought that’s what they were supposed to be doing." Cherisse Houle was 17 when her body was found outside of Winnipeg. Her mother spoke at the Winnipeg hearings. (Facebook) Houle said health support workers did not prepare her for testifying or approach her after to debrief. She said no one from the inquiry has contacted her since to check in or offer her aftercare support."I feel that there is no compassion there whatsoever," she said.Houle said she […]
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