Workers to support Indigenous families

INDIAN BROOK, N.S. — It’s been eight years since the body of Tanya Brooks was discovered in the basement window well of a Halifax school.

The murder of the 36-year-old mother of five from Millbrook First Nation remains unsolved, one of an untold number of cases of violence against Indigenous women and girls that a national inquiry will examine as it visits communities across the country this fall.

“My sister is one of the murdered Indigenous women in this country and I don’t want her death to be in vain,” said Vanessa Brooks, who plans on sharing the story of her sister’s death with the inquiry when it comes to Nova Scotia in late October.

“One murder is one murder too many. We need to know why our numbers are so high, why our girls are going missing and why they’re being murdered,” she said. ”We need this inquiry and we need answers.”

The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry has been embroiled in controversy and faces numerous criticisms, including failing to provide sufficient support to families.

In an attempt to help families and communities through the process, the Nova Scotia government announced Thursday it has hired three community support workers.

Justice Minister Mark Furey said the outreach workers will support Indigenous women and families as they share their traumatic stories with the inquiry.

The positions are funded through a three-year, $790,000 agreement with the federal government.

In addition to supporting and counselling families and providing cultural support through smudging, prayers and sweat lodges, the unit of three outreach workers will share updates about the inquiry process.

Nova Scotia Native Women’s Association president Cheryl Maloney said providing culturally appropriate services for Indigenous communities is “long overdue.”

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