Regina organization expanding MMIWG2S family support, education through culturally sensitive 'tool kits'

·2 min read
Red ribbons tied to road signs, hydro polls and trees line Mississauga Street in Curve Lake First Nation to raise awareness of MMIWG2S (Rhiannon Johnson/CBC - image credit)
Red ribbons tied to road signs, hydro polls and trees line Mississauga Street in Curve Lake First Nation to raise awareness of MMIWG2S (Rhiannon Johnson/CBC - image credit)

Caring Hearts Counselling (CHC) in Regina is expanding the work it's doing to help Indigenous family members who have a missing loved one.

The organization is developing culturally sensitive 'tool kits' for non-Indigenous agencies that work with families affected by Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and Two-Spirited People's (MMIWG2S), like police or counselling providers. The kits will include stories from elders, information about ceremonies, the purpose of a sharing circle and other culturally relevant information.

For the last few years, the organization has been offering support services and sharing circles for Indigenous people who have a missing loved one, according to Dwayne Yasinowski, CHC's director of education.

He said last year CHC provided help to about 40 family members. In the years before that, he said they helped 20 to 25 family members on average.

The organization is now building on those efforts through the tool kits, in hopes that it will improve the help that's available and encourage more family members to reach out for support.

Yasinowski said a lack of knowledge and perspective can sometimes prevent Indigenous family members from getting help during an extremely difficult time.

"If you have a family that's going to an agency … and they don't feel maybe safe, or they don't feel like their tradition and cultures are being heard, that's an extra layer of trauma that can be added onto them that, quite honestly, they don't need," he said.

Yasinowski said non-Indigenous agencies often do as much as they can to provide support, but it can be difficult to relate to someone without knowing where they come from and what they're going through — especially when a family member goes missing.

"Unless you've actually experienced that, you can't even really imagine what it's like," he said.

"This is a new topic for a lot of people, the idea of just ambiguous loss and missing persons loss, and then when you start to put in the cultural pieces and the need for cultural awareness, it becomes a big learning curve for a lot of agencies."

Yasinowski said he also hopes the kits will will raise awareness for MMIWG2S and help get to the root cause of Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit or LGBTQ people from being disproportionately represented as missing persons.

"If we all continue to make that difference, we will change what's going on," he said.

Yasinowski said the first kits should be available in October for any agency or person that helps support Indigenous people with a missing family member.

The federal government is providing $332,270 over three years to CHC for its support efforts.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting