Kamloops woman sits down with Prime Minister Trudeau on national TV

Kamloops' Nikki Fraser poses a question on missing and murdered indigenous women and girls to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a Sunday news special on the CBC. Trudeau replied: "This matters. Indigenous lives matter. That you even have to say that is frustrating to me." CBC photo Aiyanna and Trey weren't the least bit impressed mom had been featured on the CBC National News earlier this week.

Instead, the youngsters were focused on the basics of a mom's job -- getting breakfast ready and a diaper changed.

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Some day, however, Nikki Fraser's kids, ages 3 and 5, will know of the 10 minutes the Kamloops woman spent with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, asking questions Fraser hopes will play a role in making the world a safer place for children like hers -- and, specifically, for the nation's daughters.

Fraser was one of 10 people chosen by the CBC to ask Trudeau a question. She chose the topic of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.

However, the youth worker didn't know initially her question would be posed to the prime minister.

Fraser said she was approached by the CBC and asked to share her story and the reasons why she is an activist in the movement that would see the country confront the reality that more than 1,200 indigenous women have died or disappeared.

Among them were Fraser's aunt Dorothy Spence, who disappeared from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside in 1995, and her cousin Samantha Paul, whose body was found in the White Lake area near Barnhartvale in 2014, almost a year after she disappeared.

The next step was an invitation to Ottawa, where Fraser learned she would take part in the CBC event.

Filming took place on Jan. 28 and the 10 people taking part remained in the nation's capital until the live broadcast on Sunday that accompanied the CBC's Peter Mansbridge introducing the questions and answers -- and the people behind them.

Fraser said she appreciated Trudeau's answer to her question: With respect to missing murdered indigenous women, what is your plan to stop this from happening?

But, she noted he replied like a politician, not providing a concrete response.

Trudeau pointed to the national inquiry he has launched into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.

"There's Lessons to learn and things to make that we do so we get healing for the families and the loved ones, so we get justice for the victims and, mostly, so we make that your daughter and no one else's daughter, sister, cousin gets to go through this in the future," Trudeau replied.

Fraser noted the RCMP has had a "horrible track record" dealing with the issue.

"Well, there are big changes to make right across the board," Trudeau said. "The RCMP's part of it, but the culture of government and politics is a big part of it as well. This matters. Indigenous lives matter. That you even have to say that is frustrating to me."

"It's a start," Fraser said of Trudeau's response, adding she was most impressed when Trudeau said all indigenous life matters. In Fraser's mind, those few words carried a large message, one she had not expected to hear.

"At the end of the live show, we were all there, shaking hands and mingling and I said to the prime minister 'You made history today, Mr. Prime Minister'," when you said all indigenous life matters.

"And he said, 'No, you made history today'."

Heading home, Fraser said people recognized her in the airport and thanked her for sharing her story, some crying as they spoke with her.

"That's one of the reasons I did it," Fraser said, "to get the opportunity to put my aunty's story out there and put my cousin's story out there.

"I don't want to lose them in the statistics."

She did it for Aiyana, as well, and for all the other young indigenous girls in Canada.

"I don't want her to grow up in a country where her life is less valued."

Fraser, a member of the B.C. Native Women's Association and the Native Women's Association of Canada, praised the recent ruling by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal that found the federal government discriminated against tens of thousands of First Nations children by providing less money for child welfare on reserves.

"It was a long time overdue," she said of the legal battle that took nine years to go from the complaint by social worker Cindy Blackstock to the tribunal's ruling. "It was a huge victory."

Fraser is heading to Manitoba for meetings being held in advance of the planned national inquiry Trudeau announced during the federal election campaign.

She will continue sharing stories of her aunt and cousin and talking about her vision for the future of her daughter and son.

"It's getting the conversation going," Fraser said. "And now that we've shared our truths, I want justice."

© Kamloops This Week


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