EDMONTON – Some members of Edmonton’s Indigenous community are feeling hopeful after a consultation with the federal government on how a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women should be shaped.
Amanda Gould calls herself a survivor. The Edmonton woman, who is Indigenous, managed to escape a bad relationship, which she said left her worrying she would become just another statistic.
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“I felt like I was going to die out on the street. When I was being chased by him, I thought for sure something was going to happen to me,” she said.
“I’ve had guns to my head. I just about drowned in a river.”
Gould has several Indigenous friends who have been murdered. She’s been advocating for a national inquiry for approximately 10 years.
“There are so many stories that are out there, that haven’t been told,” she said.
“A lot of families need that justice to know what happened or some kind of answer as to how we can prevent this from happening to another family member.”
On Thursday, the federal government held a pre-inquiry meeting with family members and loved ones of Aboriginal women who have disappeared or been killed.
Gould said the meeting with Carolyn Bennett, the federal minister of Indigenous affairs, was encouraging.
“I believe she actually listened to us. Having her here and listening to us today is huge. It means a lot to me,” she said.
Gould said those at the consultation were asked to provide feedback on nine questions, ranging from who they thought should participate in the inquiry, to who should lead it. They also touched on how the process can be set up to provide practical recommendations, and how best to involve families, victims’ loved ones and survivors.
“As the day progressed and we saw progress, everybody was sharing their ideas, the mood got lighter. We ended on a really good note. People were smiling, laughing and feeling hopeful,” Gould said.
Powerful art display
Over on 118 Avenue near 92 Street, red dresses hang in an art installation, symbolizing missing and murdered Aboriginal women. The exhibit is called Ni wapataenan, or “We see”.
Organizer Lori Calkins, who is Metis, said the display is meant to open people’s eyes about the issue, restore value to the women and push viewers to play a role in the process of healing and reconciliation.
“We need a healing and reconciliation between men and women and between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in this country,” she said.
Calkins said it was particularly poignant to have the display while the pre-inquiry was in the city.
“It’s very important for us to have this installation up knowing that the vitally important work is going forward,” she said.
“We see that the fact an inquiry has been called and the consultations are happening across the country is a hopeful sign.”
Calkins said the display will run until March 3.