The distraught son of Wendy Carlick, an advocate for missing and murdered Indigenous women who was found dead weeks ago, interrupted the national inquiry on Wednesday to share his grief.
Alex Carlick walked into the tent in Whitehorse where another family was testifying and began to speak into a microphone. Wearing dark sunglasses, he said he was crying because both his mom and sister were taken from him.
"I see no cops here because they never did nothing for anything that I went through," he said. "I lost everything, the closest family I have."
"I feel everybody's pain around here. It's pretty hard that you have to go through these situations," he added. "My mom was a mom to a lot of people. I know that she's always going to be with me."
Carlick left the tent in tears. The family members that had been testifying about their loved one, manslaughter victim Evangeline Billy, appeared shaken and a break was taken.
All are welcome at the community hearings, said Bernee Bolton, the inquiry's spokeswoman.
"This individual recently lost his mother and although he was not scheduled to speak today, we did expect him at some time. He had something to say and the family supported family by giving him space to speak," she said.
These occurrences are to be expected, which is why health supports are in place, she added.
"This is all part of the healing and truth telling process."
Wendy Carlick became an advocate for slain Indigenous women after her daughter was murdered, said family friend Diane Lilley. Angel Carlick's body was found in a wooded area in 2007 and her killing has not been solved, the Whitehorse Daily Star reported.
The newspaper reported that Wendy Carlick was one of two women found dead in a Whitehorse home in late April. The RCMP is investigating the deaths as homicides.
"I can understand why Alex is feeling the way he is because he's all alone now," said Lilley. "Wendy was a beautiful soul."
Lilley said she followed Carlick out of the tent and spoke to him outside, where he was extremely distraught. Two of his family members came to comfort him and take him away, she said.
She said she was proud of him for finding the courage to speak.
"I think that was really, really brave of him to do that," she said. "Even though he interrupted, I'm really, really glad that he did that."
The incident highlights the raw emotions at the hearings, which began Tuesday. Testimony has been intense and tearful, with many relatives presenting family photographs of lost loved ones to the commissioners and speaking passionately about their legacies.
One family member urged the inquiry to recommend the RCMP apologize to Indigenous people.
Edna Deerunner said she believes her father killed her mother, Annie Dick, in Porter Creek, Yukon, in the mid-1950s. Deerunner was just five years old at the time and said her father never faced justice.
"I think it would help us so much to have an apology to our people. I really think that would be powerful for us."
The RCMP did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Some families and advocates have expressed concerns about the inquiry's terms of reference regarding police. The commissioners don't have the power to compel officers to reopen cold cases, but are examining systemic issues in the justice system.
Commissioner Qajaq Robinson asked Deerunner what sort of apology she is looking for.
"I want it to be a thorough one," Deerunner replied. "It's a fact that we were treated terribly. We are still being treated terribly. So somehow we need to rebuild some kind of relationship where communication happens."
Chief commissioner Marion Buller has said previously that the inquiry will need more time and more money to complete its work, but has not said how much is needed or when the request will be made to the federal government.
The federal government gave the commissioners a budget of about $53.9-million and asked them to complete their work by the end of 2018, but most family hearings will not take place until this fall.