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‘We all played a role in this’: Sask. police respond to MMIWG inquiry

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A family member holds a photo of a lost family member at the closing ceremony for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Gatineau, Que., on Monday, June 3, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld After three years and more than 2,300 testimonies in cross-country […]


MMIWG closing ceremonies
A family member holds a photo of a lost family member at the closing ceremony for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Gatineau, Que., on Monday, June 3, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

After three years and more than 2,300 testimonies in cross-country public hearings, the report on the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry was released in Ottawa on Monday morning.

The closing ceremony was held in the same place as where the inquiry was launched in 2016 — across the river from Parliament Hill.

The report includes 231 recommendations for change, including creating an ombudsperson and tribunal for Indigenous and human rights, long term funding for education and awareness programs to prevent violence, policing and criminal justice reforms, and stopping the apprehension of children based on cultural bias.

Regina Police Chief Evan Bray addressed the findings at RPS Headquarters on Monday afternoon, saying his force was committed to the cause throughout the inquiry — and will continue that commitment.

“The families and victims who came forward, this is real and raw emotion,” he told reporters. “I saw courage and brave people.”

Bray said Regina police are focused on building relationships and trust in their work within the community.

“We have gone through challenges, but I’m also proud to tell you there is a lot of positive things done to elevate that trust and we will continue that work,” Bray said.

Bray also understands that there may be some police officers on his force who “have racist thoughts.” He said it’s up to RPS to ensure all officers are given training that follow the “core values of the RPS.”

“I don’t think it’s prevalent, but I do think we have to be aware,” he said.

The Saskatchewan Association of Chiefs of Police said its members accept the report “with an open heart and an open mind.”

“The National Inquiry has, yet again, demonstrated that we have failed to build the necessary trust with Indigenous, Métis and Inuit peoples, especially the women. Until everyone - no matter their race, religion or sexual orientation - have trust they will be treated fairly and equally by police, we have much work to do,” Weyburn Police Chief and SACP President Marlo Pritchard said in a release. “We have to do better.”

The Regina Police Service submitted multiple missing persons files to the MMIWG Inquiry, including some unsolved cases that Bray acknowledged are “tearing apart families.”

“[Police] have to understand we all played a role in this,” Bray said. “With no disrespect to other policing agencies, they have we haven’t done the best and we need to get better. The only way we are going to get better as a community is accept that truth, take steps to get better.”

Marion Buller, chief commissioner of the inquiry, says it is now up to various levels of government and other institutions to fully implement the recommendations laid out in the report.

“You have started to rewrite Canadian history in a good way,” she said at the closing ceremonies in Ottawa. “We all are the solution.”

Bray said Regina police will do what they can to fulfill the recommendations presented in Monday’s report.

With files from CTV Regina's Creeson Agecoutay and CTVNews.ca

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