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Hearings on the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls are being held at the Fort Garry Hotel in Winnipeg this week, and child welfare is expected to be the main topic of discussion.

Viola Thomas, who is from Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc in British Columbia, and sat on the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, is attending the hearings. Thomas said yesterday one witness pointed out that many children from northern First Nations communities in Manitoba are brought to southern communities like Winnipeg because of a lack of services at home. Thomas said that kind of forced displacement of Indigenous children and families adds to trauma experienced by kids being put into care. Thomas says it also strains services in Winnipeg that are already strained.

"I think that the next municipal council has an incredible opportunity to influence provincial and federal governments to create statutory legislation that really provides adequate funding to support children within the communities that they come from," said Thomas.

Forced displacement through a lack of services is an issue across the country, according to Thomas.

As the hearings continue, a small group is set up with a fire and teepee at The Forks, near the Oodena Circle, in support and solidarity, and to welcome people attending the inquiry as well.

"What better venue than to have the people who are looking for answers come to the source--- or at the centre of our community, our Island, our country-- to have dialogue in regards to resolving some of the injustices that have taken place," said David McPherson, of being at The Forks.

McPherson is from Peguis First Nation. He says the group will be on site for the week, as the hearings take place.

"Whenever we can, whether it be cold, raining, hopefully no snow yet, but we'll be here. As long as there's somebody here with the fire, that's what they say. We'll provide the support as long as we can, and if needed," he says.

The hearings continue through Friday.