Missing and murdered indigenous women inquiry receives failing grade

By Vanessa Ybarra
May 24, 2017 - 3:00pm Updated: May 24, 2017 - 6:20pm

KAMLOOPS — Last September the Federal Government launched an independent two-year inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women across Canada. 

The cost of the inquiry is almost $54-million.

The decision to launch the inquiry came as welcome news for family and friends of the more than one-thousand indigenous women reported missing or murdered over the past few decades

But now frustration is mounting, as many of the victim's family members believe little progress is being made and few questions are being answered.

It's a sentiment being shared by the Native Women's Association of Canada.

It's an inquiry the Liberal party said would be based on inclusion.

Instead eight months in, its investigation into missing and murdered indigenous women is getting a big fat fail from the Native Women's Association of Canada. 

"A part of that is because of lack of communication," said Francyne Joe, Interim President for the Native Women's Association of Canada. "They're not communicating to families, ensuring families know what is happening, where it's happening and what is going on."

The association has produced a report card evaluating the inquiry into the more than 1,000 Indigenous women missing or murdered in Canada in the last two decades.

Other criticisms include the commission taking four months to launch an inquiry website and commissioners speaking to only about 100 family members in the country.

"When we had the preliminary inquiry, we had well over probably 400 families in British Columbia included, so we know there should be more families involved in the process."

For Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Cathy McLeod, her biggest concern is the commission's lack of structure.  

"They fired one of their communications people and their most recent one quit," said McLeod. "They have had bad communication in terms of their structure." 

Along with restructuring, McLeod says changes need to be made to the hearing selection process. 

"I heard from family members that what they're doing is they tell their stories and the commissioner then decides if their story is important enough to be able to come to a hearing," said McLeod. "I"m sorry but if you're a family member who wants to tell your story, I think they have to find a way to say 'you know what, your story is important.'

In a recent Canadian Press article, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said "We are trusting the commissioners to do the work that we laid out."

Advocates say it's not enough. 

"Some of the families just want to boycott the whole process," said Joe. "At this point, I would like to see all of the commissioners apologize to the families and come up with a clear strategy." 

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