Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut November 24, 2017 - 9:15 am

MMIWG inquiry cancels December Nunavut hearing

“It’s very disappointing and disheartening"

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister, Carolyn Bennett, speaks at the August 2016 launch of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Woman in Gatineau, Que. (FILE PHOTO)
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister, Carolyn Bennett, speaks at the August 2016 launch of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Woman in Gatineau, Que. (FILE PHOTO)

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women says it will reschedule an upcoming hearing in Nunavut, set to be held the week of Dec. 11 in Rankin Inlet.

Organizers, families and survivors in the Kivalliq community received calls from inquiry staff on Thursday.

“After reaching out to family members to discuss the best way to move forward it was determined that the space originally planned to hold the hearings will not be able to accommodate the privacy and safety of those families wanting to share their truths,” said the inquiry’s chief commissioner, Marion Buller, in a statement posted to the inquiry website.

Buller apologized to the families planning to attend the December hearing.

“It’s very disappointing and disheartening,” said Laura MacKenzie, a former president of Rankin Inlet’s women’s shelter.

MacKenzie initiated the invitation to the inquiry to visit Rankin Inlet as a way to honour her late aunt, Betsy Kalaserk, who died in 2003.

“We’ve been mentally and emotionally preparing ourselves for this hearing for months,” she said.

MacKenzie said there were 15 people registered to share their stories during the week-long hearings, including relatives flying in from Nova Scotia and Arviat.

The hearing was set to be held in Rankin Inlet’s community hall, a venue inquiry staff would have had a chance to see when they visited the community in August. MacKenzie believes the commission could still find a more appropriate location in the community of 2,850.

In fact, Buller said staff have found “an improved location” while they work to find a new hearing date that accommodates local families.

Families have been told the hearing could be rescheduled in February 2018, though it’s unclear if commissioners will still decide to host the hearing in Rankin Inlet.

MacKenzie said organizers are considering moving the event to Iqaluit or Montreal.

But a change of venue would only “revictimize survivors,” she said.

“It’s a very close-knit community that’s really endorsed this and wanted it to happen here,” she said.

The December hearing would have marked the inquiry’s first visit to Nunavut, and its first to an Inuit region.

The change in schedule comes the same week as one of the lawyers on the inquiry’s Inuit working group resigned. Joseph Murdoch-Flowers had been working for the commission since last spring.

The inquiry has faced a series of set-backs from the get-go, including bureaucratic and IT-related delays, a number of other staff resignations and calls for commissioners to step down and “reset” the entire process.

The inquiry just reached the half-way point of its two-year mandate and recently put out an interim report.

The national inquiry has said that to date, more than 900 survivors have stepped forward to share their stories.

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(8) Comments:

#1. Posted by Over & out on November 24, 2017

Why are they even going to Rankin? Theatre?

#2. Posted by Kangiq&inigmiuttaq; on November 24, 2017

#1 Over & out: Because there are a families in Rankin Inlet who have suffered the loss of loved ones from murder, why must you be so cynical about a subject like this. Do you know such a thing as empathy or sympathy?
Please keep your comments to yourself if you aren’t willing to be compassionate. This subject is very close to a lot of broken hearted people, no need for comments such as yours to make them feel more disheartened.

#3. Posted by sled dog on November 24, 2017

hey #2,

its called free speech. Give it a try sometime. This is not Laurier University. People are entitled to their opinions ever if someone like you does not agree or you are uncomfortable with it.

Further, the last time i checked, you are responsible for your own feelings. No one can make you feel a certain way.

The MMIW Commission was a political decision by Butts and Trudeau and is backfiring on them. If anything, the commission has served no one and done nothing to improve the situation for indigenous women who are in harms way.

#4. Posted by Kangiq&inigmiuttaq; on November 24, 2017

#3 Sled dog: Obviously everyone is entitled to free speech, I did not say they weren’t - please enlighten me what you mean by someone like me? Someone who empathizes with the victim’s families?

I do agree to a certain extent with what you have to say about the commission, I think just like any other inquiry or hearing; people like YOU will never be satisfied! Nay Sayers will always be around and it is what it is.

I just hope the commission will keep their word this time for the sake of closure or healing of some sort to the families.

Lets not make this article about us. smile

#5. Posted by WHY? on November 24, 2017

Why does this very important matter so trouble.  It should make things better and not itself become a sad story.

#6. Posted by Northern Guy on November 24, 2017

The headline of this story is misleading. “Cancelled” implies that the hearing will no longer proceed, when in fact (according to the story) the hearing has been “postponed” i.e. it will proceed but at a later date and at a different venue ... sloppy.

#7. Posted by Murdered in Kugluktuk on November 24, 2017

I wish MMIWG would go to Kugluktuk, Nunavut; a murder this year is unsolved and the pain on family and friends is felt in the whole community and region

#8. Posted by Aaqitsuijik on November 27, 2017

MMIWG needs to get on the right path including such tasks as booking the right facility prior to advertising an event. 

By starting over.

This means representatives, the staff, the all.

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