Myrna LaPlante says she feels relieved after telling her aunt’s story to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada.
Emily Osmond went missing from her home near the Kawacatoose First Nation, about 200 kilometres southeast of Saskatoon, in 2007.
"I’m relieved that that part is done, but our story still continues. I mean, she’s still missing. Our family members are still missing. Our family members have been murdered and it’s not over," said LaPlante after her session with the inquiry Wednesday in Saskatoon.
"It’s emotional. We know that Canada’s watching."
During her public testimony, she said telling her aunt’s story was "a real coming together" for her family in Saskatchewan and in Yukon who didn’t know much about her life in each other’s province or territory.
LaPlante recalled that she learned of her 78-year-old aunt’s disappearance through a phone call she got at work on Sept. 20, 2007.
"One of my siblings said, ‘Auntie Emily’s missing,’" LePlante told commissioners.
"I said, ‘What do you mean, Auntie Emily’s missing? She can’t be too far away. She must have walked somewhere, maybe she fell.’"
She said she helped search for her aunt, as did others and the RCMP — which conducted a two-day search, but didn’t turn up any clues. Myrna LaPlante, who lives in Saskatoon, says she learned of her 78-year-old aunt’s disappearance through a phone call at work from one of her sibilings (CBC News) LaPlante is one of the founders of the support group Iskwewuk E-wichiwitochik (Women Walking Together) and during her testimony she cried as she remembered connecting with other families in similar situations.
"It’s not the way that you want to develop a huge network and friendship, but the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls has brought us together."
Afterwards LaPlante, who has shared the story of her aunt’s disappearance numerous times over the years, said telling it as part of the inquiry felt different.
"We have a huge captive audience, I believe, across Canada and possibility the international stage, and I believe that we’ve reached a far wider audience," she said.
"[The] topic of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls … that’s the story right now."
Community hearings for the inquiry continue in Saskatoon Thursday.
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