Thursday, July 13, 2017
National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls to stop in Smithers
Chief Commissioner Marion Buller reviewed the work ahead for the Inquiry as it makes its plans to travels to a number of communities from September through December, and for those in British Columbia, the first opportunity to contribute to the process comes up the week of September 25th when the Inquiry arrives in Smithers.
Bulkley Valley-Skeena MP Nathan Cullen was the first to share word of the Smithers plans, providing some background to that visit through his MP's constituency page.
In his media release, the MP noted that the commission has faced a number of hurdles in trying to get the inquiry underway, though making note of the selection of Smithers as one of the first communities to host a public session.
“It is absolutely essential for inquiry commissioners to travel to Northwest BC to hear directly from families along the Highway of Tears. “Reading statements and stories online or by letter does not have the same impact nor impart the very real dangers that First Nations women and girls face when travelling between remote, rural Highway 16 communities.”
“There have been many challenges to getting the work of the inquiry off the ground, directly including families in the work, and developing a sufficiently broad mandate to allow real understanding of the deeper issues of violence against Indigenous women and girls,” ...“The inquiry’s recognition of the need to hold hearings in Smithers is very positive.”
Other locations that make up the fall schedule include:
Thunder Bay, Ontario; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Edmonton, Alberta; Yellowknife, Northwest Territories; Maliotenam, Quebec; and Rankin Inlet, Nunavut.
More locations for sessions will be announced soon for 2018.
As part of the MMIWG work the National Inquiry's Truth Gathering Process will see commission teams travel to the communities to prepare participants for the hearings that will take place.
The inquiry advance team will be in the Smithers area during the week of July 17th to prepare for the September session in the Bulkley Valley.
Some background on those travel teams and the fall schedule can be reviewed here.
Further notes related to how people can participate in the National Inquiry can be examined here, a wider overview of the goals and process for the MMIWG inquiry can be found on their website.
The Chief Commissioner posted a video presentation to the MMIWG You Tube portal earlier this year to review the commission's focus towards their work.
Earlier this month Ms. Buller offered up a comment that the Inquiry was 'moving at lightning speed' a sentiment that isn't exactly shared by the families of those that have gone missing and want to participate in the commission's work.
The delay in moving forward with their work and what appears to be some internal troubles within the commission has put the work of the inquiry into the spotlight, with some issuing calls for change in their process, or an outright end to the commission.
We've been tracking some of the background to the National Inquiry through our political portal D'Arcy McGee, you can review some of those items here.