An N.W.T. woman whose sister mysteriously disappeared in the 1970s is applauding an announcement that the national inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls will now include police conduct as part of their review.
Originally from the community of Fort Resolution, Freda Cardinal was just 11 years old when her 19-year-old sister, Stella, disappeared in 1970. Stella was visiting two friends near Fort Smith at the time of her disappearance, and an inquest into her death ruled that she was presumed dead and no foul play was suspected.
According to Cardinal, Stella was six months pregnant at the time of her disappearance.
Cardinal, who now lives in Hay River, says while RCMP officers did initially investigate Stella’s disappearance, the efforts quickly waned.
“There was no follow up,” she said. “They did not come to my mother or family and say what had happened so far.
“They should have prolonged the search a little bit more than four days. They just looked here and there… and quit the search. They didn’t ask our people for help.”
Cardinal travelled to Yellowknife in January 2016 to take part in pre-inquiry engagements. She believes that racism and discrimination played a part in the RCMP’s handling of her sister’s disappearance and is calling for a multi-disciplinary group of people to help handle investigations into missing persons.
“They should look into how the RCMP do their searching,” she said. “Now, they have more technology… it should be faster and easier to find our people.”
In an announcement late last week, the inquiry said staff had assembled a forensic team, which is currently reviewing police files. Cardinal says she’s happy that step is being taken.
“I think it needs to be addressed, and it never was,” she said. “So yes, I think they should look into how they went about these…