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Winnipeg police position to help families of missing and murdered Indigenous women

·3 min read

WINNIPEG — Whether working with youth in care, survivors of domestic violence or families navigating the justice system, Angie Tuesday has dedicated her life's work to providing culturally appropriate and supportive guidance to Indigenous peoples during times of trauma and uncertainty.

Tuesday will now apply her knowledge and skills in her role as the family support and resource advocate for the Winnipeg Police Service.

Police announced Wednesday that the First Nations woman would take on the newly created role that fulfils a commitment made by Chief Danny Smyth a year ago.

The position was designed to support families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls as they search for answers related to their loved one's death or disappearance. It will co-ordinate access to agencies, partners and services as well as connect families to culturally safe resources in the community that could assist them in their healing journey, police said in a news release.

"Families have indicated that there is a gap in terms of information that they can get from the various systems, and so my role is to try to bridge that gap within the Winnipeg Police but also, as I see it, to help navigate other systems that they might be engaged with and might need information from," Tuesday said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

She spent the last nine years as a victim services worker with the Manitoba government, supporting families as they went through the justice system. Her work with the province also gave her the opportunity to engage with traditional elders, grandmothers and knowledge keepers as well as community organizations, she said.

"All of those different roles have sort of helped to build my capacity and build my knowledge of differing experiences of trauma and what supports may be needed to help people who are experiencing trauma or crisis," said Tuesday.

She said she also relies on her own experiences to help build a connection with families.

Tuesday was 16-years-old when her family faced the traumatic loss of her sister.

"I live in my truth and I help families from where I'm coming from. I put a little bit of myself into that support," said Tuesday.

Police said the role is in response to the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

Tuesday will not be limited to working on those files, but police expect most of her work will include such cases.

She will work alongside investigators in the missing persons, counter exploitation, homicide and historical homicide units.

Insp. Bonnie Emerson, who's with the community support division of the Winnipeg Police Service, said she understands there could be pushback from the public as conversations about the fractured relationship between police and Indigenous peoples continue, but argues a position such as Tuesday's could help to address some of those issues.

"(Tuesday) has the insight and the trauma-informed practices to inform and help make cultural shifts and look at how we could be doing something better," said Emerson.

Tuesday, for her part, said she wants to continue to keep families at the forefront in her new role — and part of that will be bridging the gap between the police service and community.

"If I can do that in some small way, then that's my goal here," she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2021.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Brittany Hobson, The Canadian Press

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