February 18, 2019

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Minister in town to trumpet $10M memorial for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality, speaks about the fund for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Winnipeg on Thursday.</p>

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality, speaks about the fund for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Winnipeg on Thursday.

OTTAWA — The federal Liberals are putting up cash for Winnipeggers with ties to missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls to help commemorate their “stolen sisters.”

A local advocate says the move could help families heal, but suspects the tight timeline is because of the 2019 federal election.

Maryam Monsef, the minister for women and gender equality, visited Winnipeg on Thursday to bring attention to a $10-million memorial the Liberal government announced after granting a partial extension to the troubled National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

“We’ve listened to families, including those here in Winnipeg. We are responding,” Monsef said in an interview. “I’m making a point of going to communities that have been particularly affected directly.”

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OTTAWA — The federal Liberals are putting up cash for Winnipeggers with ties to missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls to help commemorate their "stolen sisters."

A local advocate says the move could help families heal, but suspects the tight timeline is because of the 2019 federal election.

Maryam Monsef, the minister for women and gender equality, visited Winnipeg on Thursday to bring attention to a $10-million memorial the Liberal government announced after granting a partial extension to the troubled National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

"We’ve listened to families, including those here in Winnipeg. We are responding," Monsef said in an interview. "I’m making a point of going to communities that have been particularly affected directly."

The funding is open to Indigenous governments or incorporations across Canada for projects of varying sizes. A committee of Indigenous people will review proposals and come up with recommendations for Monsef.

She’s instructed them to include not only First Nations but also Métis and Inuit people, as well as those who identify as gender or sexual minorities, known as two-spirit people.

The cash can be used for murals, artworks, monuments, sun dances, powwows, as well as performances and educational initiatives. Monsef said her department will encourage applicants to include mental health supports as part of any pitch "likely to have an impact emotionally or psychologically."

Hilda Anderson-Pyrz, MMIWG liaison for Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, questioned the timeline of the funding, which Ottawa unveiled eight months ago. Groups have just eight weeks to apply, which requires wide consultations.

"They’re not giving a lot of time for that to occur,’ she said.

Anderson-Pyrz did say the cash could help traumatized families heal, by undertaking ceremonies. "There’s a lot of good that could come," she said on the sidelines of a Thompson conference on human trafficking.

She gave the example of a monument in the city, or "coming-home ceremonies," where families welcome the spirit of a relative, or communities embrace people who have closed themselves off in grief.

Monsef said she expects "significant demand for these dollars" and is "absolutely open" to funding more initiatives if there’s enough demand.

National projects are eligible for up to a half-million dollars, while regional ones can apply for $200,000; local projects are capped at $50,000.

Groups have until March 28 to apply online; projects can start as of July.

dylan.robertson@freepress.mb.ca

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History

Updated on Thursday, February 7, 2019 at 6:48 PM CST: Updates headline

10:03 PM: Fixes typo

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