Missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls inquiry to hear from youth in Moncton

The second day of the Moncton, N.B., stop of the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls will feature a youth panel.

Wednesday marks the final day of hearings in the southeastern New Brunswick city — the MMIWG’s only stop in the province as the panel makes its way from coast to coast.

It was expected that about 38 survivors and family members will share their stories throughout the two days in a variety of formats — public and private hearings, sharing circle testimonies and artistic expression panels.

​The hearing at Four Points by Sheraton Moncton is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. AT.

On Tuesday, the inquiry heard from three elders — the Knowledge Keepers panel — who discussed the history of Indigenous people in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, including women losing their Indigenous status for marrying non-Indigenous men.​

Judy Clark, president of the Aboriginal Women’s Association on Prince Edward Island and an elder in residence at UPEI, said she lost her Mi’kmaq status when she married in 1975.

‘In order for people to understand who we are and where we came from, we have to share our story.’ – Judy Clark, elder

Before she walked down the aisle, her father, who had been the chief of Lennox Island First Nation, asked her, “Are you sure you want this?”

But she was in love, so her father literally gave her away and she moved to B.C. with her husband, who was in the military. It was a difficult time, recalled an emotional Clark.

“It’s the loss of community, it is the loss of your family,” she said. “They try to forget that you’re there. You’re dead, basically.”

Judy Clark said she was forced to leave her family and Mi’kmaq community behind when she married a non-Indigenous man in 1975. (CBC)

Indigenous men who married non-Indigenous women, however, kept their status, said Clark, who has written a paper about discrimination under the Indian Act.

Up until 1985, Aboriginal women could not return home, said Clark. She had to apply for status for her two daughters, who were born in the 1970s.

“In order for people to understand who we are and where we came from, we have to share our story.”

The independent inquiry, launched in September 2016, has heard from more than 700 people so far.

Its mandate is to “examine and report on the systemic causes of all forms of violence against Indigenous women and girls in Canada by looking at patterns and underlying factors,” according to the website.

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