BROWNING – The families of Matthew Grant and Ashley Loring HeavyRunner shared their thoughts and experiences during a community discussion about Missing and Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP) in Browning on December 18.
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Advocate Tara Walker Lyons, the creator of Tara’s Law Montana, hosted the discussion, which addressed a number of issues.
According to Lyons, families were given a voice to discuss the helplessness they feel over their loved one’s death or disappearance and the frustration over the lack of information shared by investigators.
During and after the workshop, participants and activists connected with other families who are missing loved ones.
Lyons stated that no matter how much time has passed, Matthew and Ashley’s families would continue to fight for them.
The event included a short documentary segment created by Blackfeet/Shoshone filmmakers Ivan and Ivy MacDonald.
Diana Bird with the Silent Warrior Society presented a slideshow for Matthew’s family that included a rundown of events from when he went missing to social media screenshots and webpage visits by family members who needed information on how to coordinate ground searches, according to Lyons.
Kimberly Loring and Jenna Loring both shared their experiences. Kimberly Loring, Ashley’s sister, expressed her hope of seeing families taken seriously when a loved one is reported missing.
Lyons added that a common theme throughout the discussion was how law enforcement did not listen to family members.
The presentation ended on a positive note, however, with a second video from Ivan and Ivy MacDonald, which showed how students from Box Elder have become involved in the missing and murdered indigenous women movement.