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  • Writer's pictureThe Low Down

Winnipeg remains retrieval a national issue, Ms. Chatel

The editor,

An open letter to Pontiac MP Sophie Chatel,

On July 22, after several emails, which received auto-replies, I requested to meet with you. While I understand that an MP may be too busy to meet with an individual constituent, I think it is reasonable that – at the very least – one of the members of your staff take time to hold a discussion with an individual you represent, even if she is just a teacher.

My initial correspondence to you concerned the need for the families of Morgan Harris and Marcedes Myran to be treated with dignity and to be allowed to retrieve their remains from a Winnipeg landfill. I acknowledge that, while this is a provincial issue, it is also a national issue and it was your government that initiated the Inquiry Into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and published a summary of recommendations in 2019.

To be fair, I finally did get a reply about my specific concern. Your answer achieved the correct tone and it communicated an appropriate level of outrage, but, as I mentioned, it was an answer that could have been written with a quick Google search. If I were to grade it, I would say it was a level 3+ (75 per cent); it was what could be described as performative. The content was there, but it lacked the insight that would give it a level 4 or 4+ (85-95 per cent range).

As a result, I find myself writing another letter to you, this time via our local newspaper. I have already conceded that I have asked you to do something a bit risky and I also admit that I am not entirely familiar with the protocols you must follow. There are protocols in my job too.

My own mother passed away last year. While it was a difficult time, our family was able to hold a funeral that observed her faith and traditions and we know where we can honour her remains. When I think of the Harris and Myran families, I cannot imagine how they can process their grief without the comfort that the grieving process provides. I maintain that the Harris and Myran families must have the same rights that my family has.

The fact that the demonstration [in Winnipeg] has moved to a site next to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights means that what has been identified as a national crisis has become an international embarrassment. I would like to clarify that I am not asking this for First Nations, Métis or Inuit People. Indigenous communities are replete with articulate advocates and they do not require me to speak for them. I am asking as a Canadian citizen; I am mortified, and you should be too.

Margaret McDougall

Edelweiss, QC


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