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

BC Wildfire holding steady on Okanagan Complex

Evening update on Okanagan fire situation

Special board gets those with mobility challenges out on the water at Canoe Beach

A special beach chair was used to cross the uneven ground down to the water’s edge.

Okanagan Wildfires: An afternoon update on wildfires and evacuations

A Sunday afternoon look at the major wildfires impacting the Okanagan and Similkameen.

BC Wildfire merges Mt. Eneas and Munro Lake fires

Large plume of smoke seen over the fire was a controlled event

Salmon Arm emergency crews respond to single vehicle accident on 50 Street SW

An ambulance was seen leaving the scene of the accident

BC Games: Day 3 wrap and closing ceremonies

The torch in the Cowichan Valley has been extinguished as Fort St. John gets ready to host the 2020 BC Winter Games

Police confirm girl, 8 others injured in Toronto shooting; shooter dead

Paramedics said many of the victims in Danforth, including a child, were rushed to trauma centres

Why do they do it? Coaches guide kids to wins, personal bests at the BC Games

Behind the 2,300 B.C. athletes are the 450 coaches who dedicate time to help train, compete

Reel Reviews: Floundering inferno

We quote Charlie Brown: “Good grief!”

UPDATE: Five taken to hospital following one of two Coquihalla accidents

One airlifted in critical condition, four taken via ambulance in stable condition

Ottawa fails to find alternative buyer for Trans Mountain pipeline by deadline

The feds had announced it was purchasing the $4.5 billion pipeline earlier this spring

Government sets full-time salary range for Justin Trudeau’s nanny

At its top range, the order works out to a rate of $21.79 per hour, assuming a 40-hour work week

Lower Mainland teams battle for baseball gold at BC Games

Vancouver Coastal squeaked out a 3-2 win against Fraser Valley

The Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw people signed an agreement-in-principle with the B.C. government

The signing ceremony, at the Eliza Archie Memorial School, was 25 years in the making

Most Read