Elder Marge George delivers a morning prayer during the first day of five in the last community hearing of the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press)

Final day of public hearings for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls

The hearings have lasted all week in Richmond

A longtime advocate for missing and murdered Indigenous women told her own story of abuse on the last scheduled day of public hearings for the national inquiry Sunday.

Bernie Williams, who has fought for women on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside for 30 years, said her abuse began at age three and continued through foster homes and a marriage, involving broken bones and brutal rapes.

One foster family forced the kids to eat from bowls on their hands and knees, like dogs, she said.

“At the age of 11 to 12 years old, six of us girls were sold into the sex trade work,” said Williams, who is now 60.

“As many of you know, I don’t wear shorts very often, because I have cigarette burns all through my legs right up to my back. … This is what we endured, we were just kids.”

Williams, who says she lost three sisters and her mother to murder, says she’s tired of seeing elders at food banks and unanswered calls for things like health, healing and wellness centres.

“Why has it taken over 4,000 women and girls’ names to secure and still keep asking the same questions,” she said.

She said it’s time to stem a tide of lateral violence — in which people in need fight amongst one another instead of against systemic problems.

READ: Traditional medicine helps heal at missing women inquiry

Metro Vancouver’s hearings on Sunday were the last that were scheduled for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, though others will continue to testify in private.

The inquiry was established by the federal government in 2015 to investigate the disproportionately high number of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada, and to give family members a chance to have their stories heard.

READ: Sharing truth with art at inquiry into missing, murdered Indigenous women

Chief Commissioner Marion Buller, who has said the inquiry needs more time, is expected to make closing remarks this afternoon.

Buller told the Canadian Press that the inquiry has enough material to produce a report, but it will only scratch the surface of the issues without more time.

Commissioners asked the federal government last month for a two-year extension, but Buller says it remains unclear if that request will be granted.

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Petition to stop new cell tower too close to Kelowna homes

An online petition was started to stop cell tower construction near Ellison Elementary School

Local Kelowna project tabs restaurant workers for industry fundraiser

The 2nd Hungry Games invites fundraises for local charities

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: Clear skies and pushing 20 C

Environement Canada forcasts a sunny and warm Easter weekend

Peeling away: OK strip clubs disappearing

Hear from Penticton’s only strip club owner about their success in a dying industry

Berry: Sayonara journalism, it’s been fun

Lake Country had more in store than I bargained for

Update: Fire destroys Peachland home on Somerset Avenue

Crews are still on scene pumping water onto the blaze

Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Summerland student examines effects of sound

Science fair project will go to national competition in New Brunswick

Cuteness overload: duckling thinks dog is its mom

Vernon photographer Fiona Hook shot a cute video after noticing one of her ducklings had taken a special liking to her dog.

Fire near Vernon airport “not a concern”

Vernon firefighters attended the scene and found a resident performing a controlled burn

Sons of Anarchy’s Kim Coates stops by Okanagan café

Coates was spotted in West Bank’s Kekuli Café on April 20

B.C. women make 2,200 cabbage rolls for charity

The money raised was donated to former NHL player Aaron Volpatti, who is raising funds for ALS

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, 35 people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

B.C. mom wages battle to get back four kids taken from her in Egypt

Sara Lessing of Mission has help from Abbotsford law firm

Most Read