Former AMC official named special adviser on MMIWG2S+ in Manitoba

Cora Morgan will help prepare Manitoba’s strategy to deal with missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people

Cora Morgan is the new provincial adviser on Indigenous women's issues and secretary to the missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people and gender-based violence cabinet committee. Photo: APTN file

The Manitoba government has appointed the former First Nations Family Advocate at the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) as its special adviser on Indigenous women’s issues and missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people (MMIWG2S+).

Cora Morgan brings “vast expertise and compassion” to the role,” said Nahanni Fontaine, who filled the post prior to becoming a provincial NDP politician and Families Minister in the Wab Kinew government.

Morgan, who could not be reached for an interview, said in a statement she was excited.

“I’m honoured to be part of a government that prioritizes the safety and well-being of Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit Manitobans,” Morgan said in a news release.

“I cherish the opportunity to make impactful changes to improve the quality of life for our relatives and to promote dignity and respect for Indigenous people.”

The NDP government said in the release Morgan will “lead the development of Manitoba’s MMIWG2S+ provincial strategy and engage with communities and MMIWG2S+ families to keep Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit Manitobans safe.”

She was also named Secretary to the Gender-Based Violence Committee of the NDP cabinet.

The Anishinaabe mother and member of Sagkeeng First Nation, located about an hour north of Winnipeg, helped families navigate the provincial child welfare system for seven years despite not being a social worker.

AMC said Morgan did her job with “unwavering compassion and determination.”

“Morgan emerged as a prominent advocate, drawing attention to the unfair practices of child welfare agencies known as Birth Alerts,” Grand Chief Cathy Merrick said in a release.

But some members of Manitoba’s MMIWG community are disappointed Morgan was chosen for the role, which collaborates closely with Fontaine, who is also minister responsible for women and gender equity.

“She’s totally wrong for the position,” said Barb Guimond, a Sagkeeng band member and independent advocate for MMIWG and homeless women and girls based in Winnipeg.

“I don’t have confidence in her.”

Guimond said Morgan is not known as a consensus builder within the MMIWG community or her home community of Sagkeeng, which Guimond noted has the highest number of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada.

“In so many ways, she’s not the right person for the job,” agreed Isabel Daniels, a local MMIWG advocate, whose cousin Nicole Daniels froze to death 14 years ago in downtown Winnipeg.

“She doesn’t have a background working with families,” said Daniels. “With MMIWG, she was never on the front lines. It’s not a cause she ever supported.”

Northern Manitoba

Darlene Osborne, whose extended family has lost four young women over five decades, feels the appointment ignores MMIWG families in northern Manitoba.

“It’s always the south that’s getting a lot of attention,” said Osborne, a former band councillor and Elder in Norway House Cree Nation, which is approximately 500 km north of Winnipeg.

“Our families, they don’t want to go to the city (of Winnipeg) for a conference or a gathering because that’s where they lost their loved ones. There are a lot of families that are still suffering in the north.”

The Osborne family lost Helen Betty Osborne to murder in The Pas, Man., in 1971. The remains of cousin Felicia Solomon were discovered in a Winnipeg river in 2003, the body of cousin Hillary Wilson was discovered on a path outside Winnipeg in 2009, and other cousin Claudette Osborne disappeared in Winnipeg in 2008.

Darlene said the government could correct course by appointing two special advisers – one for the north and one for the south.

“All (of) these isolated northern communities – nobody goes there to meet with MMIWG families,” she said. “We do our best to have our family gatherings here but the families don’t have funds to join us.”

Manitoba RCMP say Indigenous women and girls account for 21 per cent of homicide victims in the last three years. They say eight Indigenous women were killed in areas they police in 2023, alone.

An independent review by APTN News shows the victims of seven Winnipeg homicides in 2023 were Indigenous women.

– with files by Dennis Ward

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