New initiative to help families of MMIWG gather information
- EFN Staff | October 22, 2017
Families of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) can get help and support from the Family Information Liaison Unit (FILU). Dorothy Myo, the manager of FILU, said the unit is a new initiative where families can seek and gather information about their missing or murdered loved ones. FILU will respond to families that request information through government agencies or institutions such as obtaining information from the RCMP, Victim Services, Municipal Police Services, Coroner Service, courts and from other related offices throughout Canada.
“Sometimes it’s difficult to access information [when] you’re dealing with trauma and grief,” Myo said. “We’re just opening our doors [so] what we’re doing right now is trying to create awareness about this service that we will provide and help families accessing the information.”
FILU is not the only initiative but the unit is set up in other provinces as well and also runs parallel to the national inquiry. FILU cannot resolve complaints, re-open investigations, or provide legal advice but they can connect families to the right resources to help. They are also an outlet that can connect families with the National Inquiry and help to tell their stories. FILU will also accommodate families by putting them in touch with Elders, local counsellors and other supports including emotional support from partner agencies and organizations.
“We would follow all the privacy laws for people to access certain information,” she said. “We help families find information on what happened to their loved ones. We as staff will work with anyone who asks for help.”
There are four members in the unit and their office has been serving a few clients already where the families are requesting information on their lost loved ones. Myo expects FILU to grow from here on as she believes the number of inquiries for the national inquiry will be fairly high in numbers in Saskatchewan.
When FILU retrieves the information, their goal is to transfer it in a respectful and compassionate way to their clients being careful not to re-traumatize their clients but to help them in their journeys of gathering information about their loved ones.
“I think it’s an important part of what our work is about,” Myo said. “We want to clearly communicate to ensure the expectations are realistic in what we can or cannot do. When we talk to families, we make sure that we say that in a good way because we’re not there to set unreal expectations.”
Myo’s expertise is developed through a combined First Nations traditional and academic learning. She is the former President of the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre (SICC) and led a team dedicated to the preservation, protection and promotion of First Nations language and culture.