Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday July 13, 2017
Commissioner Quits Murdered & Missing Indigenous Women Inquiry
While the national inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls continues to lose high-level staff and appears in disarray, Canada’s Minister of Indigenous Affairs is urging everyone to not lose hope in the process.
Saskatchewan lawyer Marilyn Poitras issued her resignation in a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday. She is the first commissioner to resign from the inquiry.
In the letter, Poitras said she is “unable to perform my duties as a commissioner with the process designed in its current structure.”
Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett told Ottawa media that she has met with the commission, reviewed their path forward and has faith in what they have planned. “They really do have the vision, the values, the tools and the plan to get this work done,” Bennett said.
She added there is “no question that we all agree that the communication has been an issue,” and they must do a better job telling families about their plan and vision. But she believes they will.
However, not everyone feels as though the inquiry, in its current form, will be able to do all that is hoped. Many families and Indigenous leaders have openly questioned the inquiry’s direction, its methods and chastised it for not involving more grassroots activists — who have been fighting for an inquiry for years. They feel the inquiry has lost its way and are demanding it begin again.
Poitras’ resignation follows a press conference held last Thursday by the inquiry’s Chief Commissioner Marion Buller. Buller gave an update on the probe’s summer progress after several controversies including high-profile resignations. On June 30, executive director Michèle Moreau quit the inquiry. Moreau cited “personal reasons” for her resignation.
Buller has defended the inquiry and its progress to date, saying she will meet all the milestones including an interim report in November even though only a handful of families have spoken at public hearings.
Buller has said staff leaving the inquiry have all done so for “personal reasons” and that some had dream job offers. The inquiry has five commissioners who are mandated to travel the country, hearing the testimonies of families, then making recommendations on how to protect vulnerable Indigenous women and girls. An RCMP report in 2014 indicated there are 1,181 Indigenous women and girls who have been killed violently or have disappeared. Many believe that number is low.(Source: Toronto Star)