Lisa Marie Young’s family share the missing woman’s story at a gathering in Port Alberni for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. From left to right: Siouxsan Martin, cousin, Carol Frank, aunt, Moses Martin, grandpa, Richard Martin, uncle, Martha Stewart, aunt and Cecilia Arnet, grandma. KARLY BLATS PHOTO

Nuu-chah-nulth families share stories of missing and murdered relatives

Stories and recommendations will be added to National Inquiry into MMIWG

Lisa Marie Young’s grandmother describes the 21 year old, who went missing on June 30, 2002, as a beautiful young woman who came from a loving family.

Young, who was last heard of leaving a party in Nanaimo, is one of more than 1,000 missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG) in Canada.

With no arrests made in connection with Young’s disappearance, her family, who live in Tofino, are still seeking closure.

“My family have a really hard time in letting go of an unresolved case that we have with Lisa,” said Young’s grandfather, Moses Martin. “We still don’t know what’s happened to her. We also know we can’t move ahead, move forward without closure.”

It’s been an emotionally draining couple of days for Young’s family and 28 other Nuu-chah-nulth families participating in a three-day gathering for families of MMIWG in Port Alberni.

Read: NTC to host healing gathering for families of MMIWG

The gathering, hosted by the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, came after Nuu-chah-nulth families requested a ceremony be held on their land.

Families had the opportunity to speak publicly or privately about their loved ones who are missing or murdered, take part in healing ceremonies and tell their stories to legal and health teams with the National Inquiry into MMIWG.

Young’s grandmother, Cecilia Arnet, said the ceremony was helpful, but nothing will take the pain away from losing her granddaughter.

“[The gathering] helps a little but I’m still hurting, I’ll never stop hurting. I don’t care what anybody says, I’ll never stop crying,” Arnet said. “I’m at home alone and I think and I think and I imagine all kinds of things and wished she’d come back but she’s not. I know she’s gone but I just want closure to find her remains. Somebody must know something.”

In 2016, the government of Canada launched an independent National Inquiry into MMIWG in response to calls for action from Indigenous families.

During the gathering, families were able to make recommendations that would be brought back to National Inquiry commissioners.

Young’s grandfather said his family recommended that RCMP officers should have special training on murdered and missing Indigenous women, better access to information on cases and that the penalty system is too lenient.

“We don’t think that the penalty system is dealing with the issues,” Martin said. “People get away with murder.”

Young’s mother, Jo-anne Young, passed away at Nanaimo Regional Hospital in June, but her family believes she would be happy to know they came together to spread the word about her beloved daughter.

Martha Stewart, Young’s aunt, said the gathering brought the family closer.

“I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all learned something about each other as family members,” Stewart said. “[The gathering] opens a door a little bit to understand what it is we’re going through and to be able to pull together to support one another.”

Although forming a national inquiry into MMIWG is a step in the right direction, Young’s uncle, Richard Martin, believes the overall treatment of First nations from the government is “appalling to this day.”

“[The government] can’t just keep throwing money at studies. Do something,” Richard said. “I don’t want to see my daughter, I don’t want to see my unborn grandchildren go through what we as a family have gone through.”

Young’s family won’t stop looking for her until they find answers.

Gatherings like the one in Port Alberni are a new model, that Penny Kerrigan, community liaison member for the B.C. region with the National Inquiry into MMIWG, believes other communities could easily adapt to.

“[Families] are doing this on their terms, their own space…the Nuu-chah-nulth are a very strong and powerful culture,” Kerrigan said. “We’ve been invited in to do statement taking. We have our legal and health team…who are conducting the statements. The families are telling their story and that story will be given to the commissioners to review.”

Kerrigan added that through witnessing the ceremony and hearing from families, recommendations will be provided to inquiry commissioners.

“Some of the families have never gone through their healing, they’ve left it buried inside and never talked about it,” she said. “This has given them the opportunity to grieve and move forward.”

karly.blats@albernivalleynews.com

Just Posted

Moms of those killed by illicit opioids take to B.C. Legislature in call for action

Moms Stop the Harm, a nationwide network of families who have lost loved ones to overdoses rally

Alberni wrestler heads to University of the Fraser Valley to compete

Ravi Manhas is one of 10 recruits signed to the Cascades for 2018-19

Taxing Vancouver Island

Big Read: find out which communities are paying the lowest and highest taxes on Vancouver Island

UPDATE: Construction on Hwy. 4 halted after tree crashes into traffic

Trees are being cleared along the highway between Port Alberni and the Tofino-Ucluelet junction.

VIDEO: Canadian toddler caught practising hockey skills in crib

Eli Graveline is getting praise from far and wide as the internet freaks out of cute throwback video

Man shot dead in Surrey ID’d as hockey coach and father of two

Murder of Paul Bennett – a respected Peace Arch Hospital worker and ‘champion of sport’ – ‘not random’

Serial killer Robert Pickton transferred to Quebec: victim’s family

Pickton was convicted in December 2007 of six counts of second degree murder

Canadian Syrian children’s choir not to attend festival over fears about U.S. travel

Many kids are recent immigrants from countries covered by Trump travel ban

Amalgamation fails in North Cowichan and Duncan

North Cowichan says yes, but Duncan says no

B.C. teacher ends Jeopardy! winning streak, taking home US$69,000

Ali Hasan, from New Westminster, has been gaining fans as a “one-man invasion,” says Alex Trebek

Jett Woo highlights 5 Canucks choices on Day 2 of NHL entry draft

WHL star out of Moose Jaw tabbed in Round 2

In a matter of hours, women in Saudi Arabia will be allowed to drive

Change was announced as a royal decree in 2017 by Crown Prince Mohammen bin Salman

Most Read