The Winnipeg Police Service is seeking to provide families of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls with additional support via a newly created position.
Angie Tuesday, a former provincial victim services worker and a First Nations woman originally from Ontario, has been hired to be the service’s family support and resource advocate. Her first day was Nov. 8.
"My role, the way I see it, a big part of it is going to be supporting families wherever they are at in their grief and in their experience," Tuesday said Wednesday.
"I have had the opportunity to participate with families and engage with them a lot over the years… My hope is that the relationship that will be built, or have been built, with families will mean that they can call me at any point in the investigation, at any point in the process, and I can help to answer questions or help connect them."
The new position was announced a year ago by WPS Chief Danny Smyth as a way to assist impacted families.
At the time, Smyth said the WPS was following recommendations from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls when it asked police departments across the country to make sure services given to Indigenous communities are culturally appropriate.
"Angie will play an important role within the Winnipeg Police Service," Smyth said in a statement.
"She brings a broad range of experience in working with families in distress and will help us shape our response in a critical area to support loved ones when they need it most."
Insp. Bonnie Emerson, of the community support division, said Tuesday will work alongside investigators in the missing persons, counter exploitation, homicide and historical homicide units.
Emerson said Tuesday is no stranger to city police staff — for two years, she was embedded with them thanks to a federal grant.
"It was so valuable," said Emerson. "I am a huge fan in having somebody with cultural competency and that lived experience coming in and doing the work and informing.
"She is a rock star and an amazing person. We are lucky to have her."
Tuesday said she will bring to the role an Indigenous perspective and will also bring ceremony to the families she will be working with.
"By ceremony, I mean even having that ability to cleanse their spirit by smudging," she said.
"I think that is really important, because sometimes the information they are hearing or that is being shared is really hard on the heart… Having that opportunity to take care of your spirit in the moment when that hurt and that information is being shared can be a release and really beneficial."
Tuesday said she is looking forward to assisting those in need.
"I’m glad to have this opportunity to work with families… and also engage more meaningfully with investigators and help them in their communications with families,"she said.
"That’s really, at the end of the day, the thing that is really important."
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.