First Nation Organizations join with Police Services to launch Am I Missing? campaign
Reeti Meenakshi Rohilla - Staff Writer
First Nations organizations joined with police services to launch the Am I Missing? campaign in Sioux Lookout during a virtual event held on January 13. The campaign attempts to guide people to report missing persons and dispel common myths of the process.
Executive Director of Northern Nishnawbe Education Council (NNEC), Norma Kejick said, “The Am I Missing? campaign is to raise awareness about the misconceptions that you must wait 24 or 48 hours before you contact the police. We know that if you have a loved one that is missing, you don’t want to wait, there’s no time to wait, every second counts when you’re looking for somebody you believe is missing.”
First launched in Thunder Bay in 2018, Kejick explained that the Am I Missing? campaign was developed in response to Recommendation 91 from the Seven Youth Inquest, which examined the circumstances into the deaths of Jethro Anderson, Curran Strang, Paul Panacheese, Robyn Harper, Reggie Bushie, Kyle Morrisseau and Jordan Wabasse. The inquest into the deaths of these seven First Nations youth began on October 5, 2015, and ended on June 28, 2016 when the jury gave its verdict. There were a total of 115 recommendations that authorities are diligently working to fulfill.
Kejick said, “We act as their parents when they’re out for school and when we suspect that a student is missing, we haven’t heard from them, we can’t wait 24 hours. Every minute is crucial in locating a student when they’re in a city or town that they are not familiar with.”
The campaign features public service announcements including a video, ads and other material to guide the public through the steps that should be taken before requesting police intervention. The campaign highlights three important steps that should be taken before calling on the police for assistance to locate a missing person:
Try to find me: Contact friends or other family members of the missing person. Are there places the missing person typically visits?
Assess the risk: Is there a reason to believe the missing person could be in danger? If you aren’t certain, it’s best to trust your instinct.
Call police: When attempts to find a missing person haven’t been successful, and a person believes the missing person is at risk, they should call police at 1-888-310-1122 and file a missing person report.
The purpose of the launch of the campaign in Sioux Lookout is to increase awareness in urban communities where Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) youth attend school and where people from NAN First Nations reside. Nishnawbe Aski Nation Deputy Grand Chief Derek Fox said that it is of great importance to increase awareness about the missing persons protocols. He shared that he is pleased to have all the partners involved in helping to increase safety for people from NAN communities. Campaign partners include Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Nishnawbe Aski Police Service, Ontario Provincial Police, Northern Nishnawbe Education Council, Shibogama First Nations Council, Windigo First Nations Council, Independent First Nations Alliance, and the Keewaytinook Okimakanak Board of Education.
Sioux Lookout Ontario Provincial Police Detachment Commander Dayna Wellock, shared, “It is the mission of the Ontario Provincial Police to serve our province by protecting its citizens. In order to protect the most vulnerable, we need to ensure that the public can identify if someone is missing and in danger, and then know how to take the appropriate steps to report to police. In missing persons investigations, the first few hours are critical. Partnering with Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Northern Nishnawbe Education Council (NNEC), and organizations and other police agencies in promoting the Am I Missing? Campaign is an important step to getting this information out to the community.”