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This article was published 1/7/2020 (315 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Winnipeg Police Service is hiring a "point of contact" between the police and supportive resources for the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
According to the job posting put up Tuesday, the MMIWG family liaison contact will "gather information from a variety of agencies to assist families... in answering a myriad of questions, co-ordinating access to appropriate agencies, justice partners and services, as well as, offer culturally safe resources and healing programs."
The position requires a degree in social work and for the applicant to be registered with the Manitoba College of Social Workers.
According to an emailed statement from WPS spokesman Const. Rob Carver, the position is modelled after Project Devote — a task force in partnership with the provincial RCMP meant to investigate missing and murdered that WPS chose to leave earlier this year.
The project is still active through the RCMP. The project was established in 2011; one case has been closed so far.
In March, WPS Chief Danny Smyth said the split was meant to focus on a more community-based model where investigators from the homicide, counter-exploitation, missing-persons and internet child-exploitation units would work with local organizations to focus on cases involving exploited Indigenous women and girls.
Carver said the new liaison will work under the sergeant of the WPS homicide unit, and will be involved in the court process if charges are laid.
Former Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak grand chief Sheila North has advocated for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls for decades, and thinks the move to a dedicated WPS employee for community outreach is a good one.
"I think they’re going about it in the right way, because they have called on trusted community organizations and community people to give them advice on how to do that," she said.
A survivor or a family member of a survivor who also fits the educational requirements would be the ideal candidate. North said she felt it would not be difficult to find such a person in Winnipeg.
"There are people like that. We know that there are high numbers of victims, there are also very high numbers of survivors, and there are very many people who could fit that bill," she said.
North’s hope is the position is given some kind of independent power, because of "systemic racism that’s been embedded in society but ultimately also in policing systems and cultures," where the family liaison contact could still work on outreach while also "not on the terms of Winnipeg police all the time."
"There’s still problems, there’s still incidences where communities and family members would say that police officers are... part of the problem," she said. "But I think the trust has to be rebuilt.
"And (police) can’t do it by themselves, they need the help of the community — and that’s why they need a position like that."
Malak Abas is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.