Personal experiences with The National Inquiry’s Aftercare Services. Full details on The National Inquiry’s Aftercare Services available here.
As you well know testifying at the National Inquiry into MMIWG was exhausting for all our minds, bodies and spirits. My own Band was not able to offer any after care for me or my immediate family. I was so overwhelmed and consumed with reliving the pain in my mind and heart until the National Inquiry graciously offered a genuine healing process to direct my pain and anger. With my L’nu Support Woman I was able to deflect the negative energy that surrounded me with a positive outlook on my healing journey on Mother Earth. I was raised by an intelligent, resilient, and great warrior woman named Nora Madeline Bernard, who was murdered and fought to the end of her life. Mom raised all of her children to face adversary head on, face to face and always dot your i’s and cross your t’s, and to speak the truth even if it hurts. With my after care I was able to regain my stable scaffolding and hold my head up with a breath of fresh air as I walked the beach, smudged, and prayed for all involved in the demise of our late mother.
My after care has lead me to a more balanced self reflection of what I need to keep doing in order to live without my mother and to be able to connect my brain with my heart to keep abreast depression and anxiety. I am so thankful for all my support and the care that I was given. I was able to walk across the stage at the Mount Saint Vincent University to be awarded my Masters Degree in Education, with my mother’s spirit walking with me hand in hand, and heart to heart. I need to thank Catherine Martin and Doctor Jim Sharpe for their guidance, while engaging in my Indigenous Ways of Knowing and learning. My immediate family sees me coming back to life after almost eleven years of struggles. I would like to thank my immediate family for standing by my side as well, my husband Ricky, Danielle & Shanon, Richard, Frank and my grandchildren Aiden & Ellie for their love and support.
Millbrook First Nation- Turtle Island
I began beading when I was 14 self-taught through a book. I stopped beading for many years until the tragedy of my sister Jennifer's passing in 2013. I remember that first time picking up a needle and thread again with the many beautiful beads in front of me, and it brought me some peace as I was mourning my sister's death. I realized how much there is healing through beading, and how soothing it is. It is truly my passion to share this healing therapy with others as it was so healing for me and for my daughter Corley, so that for just a moment we can feel a sense of normal and laugh and share together as we get to know each other. We can help ground each other and know we are all in this together.
Gerri Pangman, Peguis First Nation, Wife, Mother of four wonderful children
The National Inquiry into MMIWG has provided such strength and safety to my family. When we felt as if no one else was listening, we had the MMIWG National Inquiry pick us up and fill us all with the love, support and strength to continue on the fight for justice. My family and I offer up our most heartfelt gratification to all of those carrying the stories, work and the many tears of families. Such a heavy burden to carry, but they have done so in a way that provides hope to families.
The National Inquiry allowed my family to heal and move on. The National Inquiry gave our family a stage to share about our missing sister Virginia. Now a Cold Case File, the National Inquiry moved our missing sisters case to Top 20 in the state of Maine. New leads surfaced and were actively investigated in my missing sister’s case due to the National Inquiry.
Last November, the National Inquiry gathered our family from the US and Canada to meet them on our ancestral homeland in Membertou. We were asked to recall about the days leading up to our sister's Virginia disappearance. Eagle Feathers, sweet grass and Virginia's favourite toy, a tea cup set, filled the gap between our family and the Commissioners.
Although 24 years had passed, the thinly healed scar was reopened when we shared about Virginia. Tears flowed as our family shared about the anger and frustration we felt, dealing with the bureaucracy of police and government officials as they pointed fingers towards the other, stating they were the one to talk to.
The Commissioners ever so gently probed that open wound left by a missing family member. They questioned us, leaving no stone unturned, demonstrating, the Inquiry was the One safe place to lay-down our burdens. Then in an unexpected move, the Commissioners asked our family what could they do to help us.
It was in that circle of understanding that our family began to heal. The media live steamed our family's story on television and internet. That national exposure developed new leads which are actively being investigated.
Although the two individuals that were with my sister when she disappeared have passed on, our family has renewed hope that one day, we can bring Virginia home.
A Family Member