Commissioners for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) arrived in Saskatoon Monday to set up for three days of testimony from families and survivors.
Over 80 First Nations and Métis families are scheduled to testify at the Sheraton Cavalier this week in both public and private settings.
More are expected to come as they hear about the proceedings, and will be able to tell their stories to statement-gatherers in private.
An opening ceremony including honour songs, dances and fiddle jigs was held Monday afternoon along with a grand entry of dignitaries invested in the inquiry.
“It’s a monumental and historic day,” Senator Lillian Dyck said.
“For so many years Canada did not believe we had a problem.”
The three days of testimony marks the only scheduled stop in Saskatchewan for the inquiry. It’s unclear if any future hearings will be held in the province.
Chief Commissioner Marion Buller, a member of Mistawasis First Nation west of Prince Albert, will take part in the hearings along with Commissioner Michele Audette of Quebec and Commissioner Brian Eyolfson of Ontario.
Buller said their goal is to gather as much testimony as possible to guide their recommendations, which are expected to be released in a manner similar to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
“We will hear your stories. Your truths of grief and pain, as well as your hopes and recommendations,” she said.
“It’s from you we’ll hear history.”
The inquiry has already visited Whitehorse, Smithers B.C., Winnipeg, Membertou N.S. and Edmonton.
The visits have brought out stories of extreme pain, in some cases leading to backlogs for mental health care workers as hearings have moved through Winnipeg, Edmonton and Saskatoon.
Saskatoon’s hearing schedule concludes Thursday, with the possibility of statement-gatherers travelling to remote locations in the province to collect testimony.
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