Cousin of murdered Inuk woman says MMIWG plan needs to put ‘action to these words’

‘You’re just lost and trying to find answers,’ says Leevee Naglingniq who lost her cousin in 2002.

The family of an Inuk women who was murdered says the national action plan released by the federal government and its partners on Thursday needs “action” to go along with the words.

“It’s nice seeing that it’s a lot of pages,” says Leevee Naglingniq whose cousin Jennifer Naglingniq was killed in 2002. “It seems like it was done very extensively.

“I just believe, even as great as it is, and even that it took two years, we really need to see action to these words.”

Her cousin’s murder shocked the city of Iqaluit. Jennifer was just 13 when she was killed.

“I think about her all the time. She was so happy and so loving. We were pretty close,” she says. “Her and my aunt babysat me a lot. I just remember thinking she was the cool older cousin and she loved spending time with me and my family.”

The pain for Naglingniq’s family didn’t end with Jennifer’s death. In 2008, Jennifer’s mother Nicotye died by suicide.

“It was alike a ripple effect,” she says. “We lost Jenn, we lost Nicotye. It just goes to show how one murder can affect so many people.”

Naglingniq followed the national inquiry’s trip to Nunavut. It met with families in Iqaluit and Rankin Inlet.

From the government she wants to see anti-racism programing to give Inuit equal footing on their land.

“Cultural sensitivity, understanding and recognizing what Inuit face on a daily basis and working to bridge the gap between RCMP and Inuit, or health workers and Inuit,” she says.

Nunavut is currently facing the murder of another young woman. Actress Emerald MacDonald died in Kugluktuk in early May. RCMP have not laid any charges, but are investigating her death as a homicide.

Naglingniq says she knows how the MacDonalds are feeling.

“I can only hope that they find the person who did that,” she says. “I understand how they feel. It’s an awful feeling. You’re just so drained and so emotional at the same time. You’re just lost and trying to find answers.”

Those are the answers are what the inquiry says the federal government needs to find. Its success or failure will be judged by people like Naglingniq – people who have lost so much and continue to look for those answers.

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