Reward offered to help locate MMIWG

 By Miranda Leybourne

 Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Manitoba Metis Federation is providing a financial reward for information on cold case files that lead to locating missing individuals.

In response to the exploitation and human trafficking crisis that Brandon is facing, which the Sun reported about on Saturday, and the murders of four Indigenous women in Winnipeg, the National Government of the Red River Metis said it is providing support and advocacy to survivors and families of all missing and murdered Metis citizens through a program called Pey Key Way Ta Hin (Bring Me Home). In addition, the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) is providing

$10,000 rewards for information that leads to finding missing Metis citizens.

 

Through the Infinity Women Secretariat, which connects women with cultural, employment, leadership and governance development services, the MMF is also educating women on gender-based violence and providing resources and supports for those affected by it, said secretariat spokesperson Anita Campbell. The MMF is building a “safe space” for women and children currently experiencing domestic violence, Campbell said, which will help them access important services.

 

Brandon advocates have been calling on the federal and provincial governments to do more to address the issue of exploitation and human trafficking in the city. Campbell agrees, saying the federal and provincial government both have “important roles” to play in the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG).

 

“ The Metis government is encouraged by the open discussions we are having with all levels of government. But the most important work they can do is give us a clear path as we move forward with co-developing solutions within our Metis community,” Campbell said.

 

Echoing the Brandon Friendship Centre’s calls for more resources to address MMIWG in the province and human trafficking and exploitation in Brandon, Campbell said public servants need to be educated about the culture, beliefs and values of Indigenous people.

 

“If officials could come to a discussion with Indigenous partners equipped with that understanding, when we speak of our concerns, issues, traditions or beliefs, they would already have an understanding of the context.”

 

The Southern Chiefs’ Organization, which represents 34 southern First Nation communities in Manitoba, is also calling for an end to “all forms of violence” against women, girls, two spirit and gender-diverse people, a press release sent out by the organization on Dec. 6 stated.

 

SCO Grand Chief Jerry Daniels stated in the release that the murders of Morgan Harris, Marcedes Myran, Rebecca Contois and an unidentified woman that Indigenous leaders have called Buffalo Woman, shows that much still needs to be done to protect women and to address gender-based violence.

 

“Today and every day, I join in a renewed call to end the national tragedy of gender-based violence towards all women, girls, two spirit and gender-diverse people,” Daniels said.

 

Jeremy Skibicki has been charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of all four women.

 

SCO has recently introduced initiatives to improve the safety of women, girls, two-spirit and gender-diverse people, including its newly formed mobile crisis response team, its survivors healing program and a MMIWG liaison. Daniels called on the federal and provincial governments to “fully implement” the 231 Calls for Justice stemming from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

 

“Our people and nations are relentlessly grieving. This must stop,” Daniels said.

 

On Tuesday, the Sun contacted the office of Rochelle Squires, the provincial minister responsible for the status of women, but was told by press secretary Jana Sklover that Squires was not available for an interview due to a provincial blackout in place for the Kirkfield Park byelection in Winnipeg. The byelection took place on Tuesday, and though the Sun contacted Sklover reiterating its request, it did not hear back by press time.

 

The Sun also reached out to the office of Alan Lagimodiere, Manitoba’s minister of Indigenous reconciliation, and was also told he could not speak on any new provincial initiatives addressing MMIWG due to the blackout period. After the byelection, the Sun repeated its request for an interview with Lagimodiere. His press secretary, Miranda Dube, forwarded the request to Sklover.

 

A spokesperson for the City of Brandon emailed the Sun to say that they are not “directly involved” in human trafficking or exploitation, aside from the Brandon Police Service.

 

“We do have agencies in Brandon that are working with Indigenous youth and women at risk,” the spokesperson wrote.

The Brandon Police Service and federal government representatives did not reply to the Sun’s request for comment.

Miranda Leybourne is a  Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with the BRANDON SUN. The LJI program is federally funded.

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