Laurier’s Brantford campus hosts commissioner for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women
On Oct. 4, Wilfrid Laurier University’s Brantford campus hosted an event in remembrance of missing and murdered Indigenous women.
Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Remembrance consisted of a public speaker component and a traditional Indigenous meal served afterwards at the Indigenous Student Centre. The event was organized by the Office of Indigenous Initiatives and was free for anyone who wished to attend.
Michèle Audette, commissioner for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (the MMIWG inquiry), attended the event and spoke on her experiences in this role.
“[Michèle] was very conscious and intentional about how she reached out to the families and how she worked with them,” said Bonnie Whitlow, Indigenous special projects officer.
“She never ever imposed her communities practices or protocols, she went out of her way to find out the processes and protocols from each community and then she followed that practice as she went into the communities.”
“That’s a really really important part about how the Indigenous initiatives tries to teach non-Indigienous people who want to work in Indigenous communities, that’s what we try to teach them. So she provided a very clear example of that.”
Audette, in addition to serving as the commissioner for the MMIWG inquiry, has served as president of the Quebec Native Women’s Association and Native Women’s Association of Canada and the Associate Deputy Minister for the Status of Women in the Government of Quebec.
“She shared how taxing it was on her emotionally to sit with the families and listen to all of those stories and how much healing she has had to go through as a result of holding that space for them and for raising up their voices so that their messages could be heard on a national level.”
The event saw a turnout of about 80 people, including many students, faculty and community members.
“That was really nice to see so much support from the campus. We’ve seen a lot of student engagement and a lot of faculty engagement from different departments and a lot of staff engagement so we were very happy to feel that amount of support and that her voice was heard by so many,” Whitlow said.
“To have that many people who are faculty members show their interest and attend so that they can then take those stories with them and give them a louder voice, that’s important.”
The event provided a platform to tell the stories of people who have historically been undermined and silence by the Government of Canada, bringing to light the injustices which many Indigenous people still face today.