MONTREAL (CityNews) – The Iskweu Project, an initiative of the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal, has put in place a tip line to immediately answer calls and provide assistance to families and loved ones in cases when Indigenous women, girls or trans people go missing.
Created in 2017, Iskweu, which mean women in Cree, works to reduce, and ultimately, eradicate the number of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and trans people in Quebec.
The new tip line in place, is meant to help them achieve their goal, by making communications smoother between the Indigenous community and law enforcement.
“We all know the history of missing and murdered women, especially what happened in B.C., where Indigenous women would go to the police and their complaints were not picked up,” explained Nakuset, Director of the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal.
“When the RCMP was created, it was to push people onto reservations and then later on to bring the children to residential school and parents to jail. I think there still needs to be a lot of work done in order to mend that relationship,” added Nakuset.
“The community cares about their people. And often government and police don’t necessarily care and that’s just the sad reality,” said Jessica Quijano, co-ordinator of Iskweu Project.
“My grandma was murdered back in 2005. So, I hope it gives justice to people who don’t have necessarily answers to their cases of their relatives being murdered or people who have been missing I really hope it brings light to some people,” explained Janis Qavavauq-Bibeau, Research Coordinator with Iskweu project.
“So, what’s different about this project is that we literally have a procedure where if someone goes missing instead of calling the police, they can call [Quijano with the Iskweu Project, where a there’s already a] procedure with the police, and she can help that woman by doing a three way phone call. If the woman doesn’t speak French, she can do the translation. She can support the clientele bring them to court, and she’s going to follow up on all the million of things,” explained Nakuset.
The tip line number will start appearing on buses, bus stops and billboards across the city.
“Donna Paré, I’m going to keep going back to her. She’s been missing since 2018, she a 33-year-old Inuuk women. Someone knows something out there,” explained Quijano. “So we just want some resolve when it come to that. We are really hoping that somebody will hear this will see this number call leave a tip and it might be able to resolve the case.”
If you have any information or need assistance on a missing Indigenous woman, girl or trans person, please call 1-855-547-5938.