News — 29 November 2017
Pitawanakwat working to give a voice to victims with MMIW inquiry

DAARN Living Library Series guest Shauna Pitawanakwat works for Ontario’s Family Liaison Unit (FILU) with the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Photo by Michael Christianson

By  Michael Christianson

The last DAARN Living Library of the year brought in a special speaker from Sioux Lookout.

Shauna Pitawanakwat works for Ontario’s Family Liaison Unit (FILU) with the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and she brought her insight to the library last week.

Pitawanakwat spoke about her life, career and the current state of things for life as an Indigenous person in Canada.

She drew attention to a 2014 RCMP operational review that found there were 1,181 missing or murdered Indigenous women in between 1980 and 2012. The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) has stated the number is closer to 4000 because of cases being wrongly reported as accidents of suicide. 

According to the RCMP review Indigenous Women are overrepresented amoung homicide victims by a factor of four and three times more likely to be victims of sexual assault as non-Indigenous women. 

Indigenous women make up only 1.2 per cent of Ontario’s population yet 6 per cent of female homicide victims.

Pitawanakwat says she hopes people walk away from her talk wanting to know more about Canada’s relationship with the Indigenous community. 

“I think about a few things, one just educating yourself; They say education is knowledge and power and hoping that brings more kindness and helping one another; our nationality, our colour, our religion, our creed doesn’t matter, that we can come together and help one another in a good kind way,” said Pitawanakwat. “We need to think about humanity, I think that we’ve just gone so far off the rails and I’m more impacted by that in the work that I do, it brings me to tears a lot of times and I think about that, what’s happened to humanity, what’s happened to us that we don’t help one another and I hope that through this and having an understanding about DAARN is finding ways to help each other.”

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About Author

Chris Marchand is a native of Dryden, Ontario. He served his first newspaper internship at The Dryden Observer in 1998 while attending journalism studies at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops B.C. He's worked desks as both reporter and editor at the Fernie Free Press as well as filled the role of sports editor at the Cranbrook Daily Townsman. Marchand was named editor of the Dryden Observer in Aug. 2009.

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