Ottawa to put $13M toward projects to honour lives of MMIWG

The federal government will provide more than $13 million for community-led projects to help honour the lives and legacies of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. 

The money will be used for projects including art installations, monuments and productions — such as operas or films — by over 100 women's and Indigenous groups, government officials said. 

"We see what happens when people come together in ceremony, around monuments … when they are able to share the stories of their loved ones and advocate for why this national tragedy needs to stop," Women and Gender Equality Minister Maryam Monsef said in Winnipeg on Monday morning. 

"We recognize that it's painful to share these stories," Monsef said. "We want you to know that we are listening."

It's the first step Ottawa has taken since the MMIWG inquiry released its final report earlier this month, she said. 

More announcements will follow, and the funds for the commemorations should start flowing in a few weeks, officials said. 

The government put out a call for proposals for commemoration projects earlier this year. 

Gayle Gruben, from the Manitoba Inuit Association (MIA), shed a few tears when asked what MMIWG commemorations mean to her.

"In 1967, my mother went missing. Today she is still not found, so that's important to me," she said.

A red amauti — a garment that Inuit women wear to keep their children close — made by her and colleague Nikki Komaksiutiksak, was on display at the news conference, though neither it nor the MIA will draw on the $13 million. 

Tyson Koschik/CBC