Family and friends of missing First Nations woman Lana Derrick organized a rally outside the Terrace RCMP detachment Saturday afternoon Oct. 4, calling for a national inquiry into all murdered and missing women.
“It’s significant because it’s the Highway of Tears where so many aboriginal women have gone missing,” said rally organizer Wanda Good of the choice to start the march at Ferry Island and then follow Hwy16 downtown.
“My cousin [Lana Derrick] went missing 19 years ago on Oct. 7, 1995 so we’ve been looking for her ever since, and we haven’t gotten any answers. We didn’t really get a response initially so there was some frustration, and of course there is more frustration with not knowing what happened to her.”
Similar rallies have either happened or are to happen around the north, including Burns Lake and Prince Rupert.
They’re meant to have the federal government hold a public inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women not only as a matter to be dealt with through increased law enforcement but as a deeper social issue that requires an inquiry and substantial response from various institutions.
Speaking to a group of about 50 on the lawn in front of the RCMP detachment on Eby St., Good outlined what a national inquiry would look like. “What a public inquiry would do would be review from all levels of government from the top right down [to identify] where we are lacking, where evidence is dropped, where women aren’t taken seriously by the RCMP when they make reports, and how quickly the RCMP reacted,” said Good.
The disappearance of her cousin Lana, who was 19 and a student Northwest Community College when she went missing in Terrace in 1995, is one of many instances of such cases never being solved. An RCMP report released in May noted 1,200 cases of missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada since 1980.
“This government has a tendency to blame the victim, that maybe she shouldn’t have gotten in the wrong vehicle maybe she shouldn’t have been hanging out with the wrong people,” said Good.
Speaking along with Good and the First Nations elders was RCMP Sgt. Wayne Clary who is the head of the RCMP’s missing women’s task force called Project E-PANA.
“I am here to represent Lana and help discover what happened to her,” said Good. “A lot of work has been put on this investigation and unfortunately a lot of it is behind us but there are a number of tough things we have to do in front of us. We are going to keep going forward. We have a unit that follows every single one and makes sure they are done properly,” he said, adding that RCMP missing persons operations have improved greatly over ten years.