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Governments can act on recommendations now: Commissioner

Hearings for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Yellowknife continued Tuesday with more tearful testimony from loved ones of lost women and girls, and survivors of violence.

The day began with the lighting of the Qulliq – an Inuit oil lamp – by Rassi Nashalik.

Photo courtesy of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
Joni Andre was killed by her husband in Fort McPherson in 2004. Her son Frazer was two years old at the time of her death. On Wednesday, Joni's sister, Jayda Andre, shared their family's story with commissioners of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Women and Girls in Yellowknife.
Jan. 24, 2018

She learned how to light the lamp from watching her mother, who used it for light, heat, to cook and to melt snow and ice for drinking water.

The lamp would have taken seal oil, said Nashalik, but “we don’t have seals so I use the canola oil, No Name Brand.

“It burns the best.”

Today, Nashalik lights the lamp when she has friends over to eat traditional food and talk in their language.

“This keeps my house in peace,” she said.

Commissioners Brian Eyolfson and Michèle Audette made opening remarks.

Audette praised the Dene people and their vibrant culture.

“My god you’re men are beautiful, and the women: gorgeous, powerful, amazing,” she said.

She also had a message for all orders of government: there is no need to wait for the inquiry to end, “there are recommendations here that you can act on now.”

Jayda Andre of Fort McPherson was the first to share her story Wednesday.

She spoke of her sister Joni, who was killed by her husband in 2004. Joni was 22 when she died.

Gerri Sharpe, James Norman Jenka and Sandra Faye Lockhart also shared stories Wednesday.

Tissue boxes dotted the seating area in the Chateau Nova Hotel Ballroom, where the hearings are taking place, along with brown paper bags marked “tears.”

Health support workers in purple shirts offered glasses of water and chatted with participants.

Hearings continue Thursday. A closing ceremony will take place around 4 p.m.

About 40 families and survivors signed up to share their stories in Yellowknife, in public and private hearings.

Yellowknife is the ninth stop on the inquiry's tour of Canada.

The next hearings will be in Rankin Inlet, from Feb. 20 through 22.