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

Fires claim boat and travel trailer in Nanaimo

Nanaimo area firefighters come off busy weekend for fires with two fires Monday morning

Firefighters rescue dog as two house fires happen at the same time in Nanaimo

House extensively damaged on Uplands Drive, coach house burns down on Haliburton Street

Heat warning issued for Vancouver Island

Temperatures expected to cool down later this week

Nanaimo woman missing, police ask for public’s help

Nanaimo RCMP looking for Amy Lynn Dowell

Silly boats make a splash on Nanaimo seas

Superette wins Nanaimo’s Silly Boat Regatta community fundraising event

VIDEO: Winners announced for Parksville sand sculpting competition

See the sculptures as they progress through the competition at Parksville Community Park

VIDEO: Firefighters putting out brush fire in East Wellington

Fire is in the area of a new development under construction near Shady Mile Way

Motorcyclist dies as fire, crash happen at the same time on Nanaimo Parkway

Young male motorcycle rider collides with one vehicle, then struck by another

Development permit approved for condo project near Millstone River

Six-storey building planned for Barsby Avenue

Indigenous housing providers worried Liberal proposals could put families on the streets

Indigenous housing providers raise alarms about future of federal funding deals

B.C. baseball team offers funeral prize pack

Wednesday’s West Coast League game in Victoria features draw for end-of-life package

Black Press Media journalists win big at Canadian community newspaper awards

Newsrooms earn recognition for editorial and photography excellence

Short trip to car-free Sidney Spit offers camping, beaches, hikes

Sidney Spit is part of B.C.’s Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, a protected marine ecosystem

B.C. woman disappointed after family asked for ID at townhouse complex pool

Surrey woman says it’s not the first time she has experienced racial profiling at the complex

Most Read