MKO unit helps MMIWG families navigate the justice system

A Manitoba unit dedicated to working with families whose women are missing or murdered in Manitoba say an arrest in the case of Bobbie Lynn Moose is welcome but there are more steps for MMIWG families to take on their journey to justice.

Hilda Anderson-Pyrz is the manager of the MMIWG Liaison Unit from the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, (MKO)  an organization that represents 26 First Nations in treaty areas 4, 5 , 6 and 10 in Manitoba.

The unit was established in 2017 to work closely with families to build trust, help them access services and to help navigate through the trauma of losing a loved one.

“Carrying that hurt and that trauma and pain is a very difficult journey so when there’s an arrest made I think that’s a really critical component to healing and moving forward,” she said. “We’ve often had to fundraise so families can be present during their journey of justice and write letters for them to get financial support and to be present. So that in itself is a major barrier,”

The MMIWG unit works closely with families to build trust with police and part of their success is because they are Indigenous-led.

“Often other service providers, especially is they’re non-Indigenous do not understand our people have been impacted by so much and it’s hard for them to trust and we understand that,” she said, adding that the team is 95 per cent Indigenous.

Manitoba RCMP announced Aug. 3 that Jack Clarence Flett, 52, had been charged with first degree murder in the death of Moose.

Moose, 29, a mother of two and a member of the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation, went missing from a Walmart in Thompson, Man. on Oct. 1, 2019.

Her body was recovered two weeks later near the Nelson Road in Thompson.

Manitoba RCMP Supt. Michael Koppang said RCMP investigators conducted over 400 interviews, spoke with more than 1,600 people, and watched over 50,000 hours of video surveillance footage during the investigation. They credited the community with coming forward to help with the investigation

RCMP have not released any details about how Moose was killed but say forensic evidence led to the arrest of Flett.

“I cannot specifically describe the details of the break in this case but will say that it related to forensic evidence in combination with other evidence gathered in the investigation,” he said.

Anderson-Pyrz said there are many barriers for families to navigate through the justice system after an arrest like Flett’s.

“We’re there, we’re supporting, we’re connecting, we’re letting families know what supports and resources that exist out there,” she said.

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