Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut May 15, 2017 - 7:00 am

MMIWG inquiry delays community visits until fall 2017

Commission hasn't said if, or when, it will visit Inuit Nunangat

Inquiry commissioner Michèle Audette stands during a smudging ceremony ahead of a February press conference and update into the inquiry's progress. (CPAC IMAGE)
Inquiry commissioner Michèle Audette stands during a smudging ceremony ahead of a February press conference and update into the inquiry's progress. (CPAC IMAGE)

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Women and Girls has a new approach and a new timeline, but it remains unclear how and when Inuit families and organizations will take part.

The two-year, $53 million inquiry launched last September with plans to begin gathering testimony from families of victims this spring.

While the inquiry will host its first hearings later this month in Whitehorse, Yukon, its commissioners won’t hear from other Indigenous families until the fall, the inquiry’s spokeswoman, Bernée Bolton, said last week in an emailed statement.

The national inquiry no longer plans to hold regional advisory meetings either; those will be replaced by community visits.

A team made up of the inquiry’s health, research and legal teams will help facilitate those community visits, which are intended to lay the groundwork for its “Truth Gathering Process.”

But even with the inquiry’s first report scheduled for release in November 2017, no other dates or schedules have been confirmed yet.

It’s not clear if the inquiry intends to visit Inuit communities in the process, nor if Inuit organizations such as Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada will participate in the upcoming hearings in Whitehorse, which begin May 29.

Groups that wish to participate must apply for standing—a legally-recognized role which, if granted, comes with funding to cover expenses.

The inquiry has faced criticism from the start; from Inuit, for not appointing an Inuk commissioner, and from Indigenous groups across Canada who say the inquiry has been slow to move and poor in communicating its plans.

Nunavut-raised lawyer Qajaq Robinson was appointed as one of five commissioners leading the inquiry.

Their mandate is to examine and report on the systemic causes of violence against Indigenous women and girls in Canada by looking at patterns and underlying factors.

The inquiry has made headway responding to concerns from Inuit groups, by hiring Inuit staff. Looee Okalik, who worked as a health project coordinator with Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, is now working in a community relations role with the inquiry, while Iqaluit lawyer Joseph Murdoch-Flowers has joined its legal team.

The commission has declined Nunatsiaq News’ repeated requests to interview Robinson or other inquiry staff.

In gathering testimony, commissioners aren’t working from a database, but rather inviting families to get in touch if they want to share their stories. So far, about 300 families have been identified to participate in the process.

Families and individuals who wish to get in touch can call toll-free 1-844-348-4119 or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with their name, contact information and location.

A national, toll-free crisis line is available to provide support to those who needs it, 24 hours a day, at 1-844-413-6649.

You can also visit the inquiry’s Inuktitut-language webpage here.

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(8) Comments:

#1. Posted by strong women standing on May 15, 2017

177 thousand dollars per family so far.  I hope for more families to contact the toll free number to help find the root problem.  Stronger together are women in communicating and standing for future women.

#2. Posted by Concerned Citizen on May 15, 2017

It is a shame that this is turning into a travesty. For Inuit, the Inquiry’s lack of adherence to the direction provided by Inuit organizations has been disheartening. If you head off in the wrong direction to begin with, how can you arrive at your destination on time? Sad and frustrating.

#3. Posted by iRoll on May 15, 2017

#2 Please, stop your whining. The inquiry hasn’t even started yet. I am certain that people like yourself want to see bumps and glitches in the process, this gives you something to complain about.

#4. Posted by Irksome George on May 15, 2017

#3 - Thanks for your helpful comments. You are aware of course the interim draft from the Inquiry is due in November right? If they only start consultations in September, how are they going to pay adequate attention and respect to the many families of the victims? There are huge comlexities involved with setting this up and there is little confidence that they have done their homework or listened to the advice offered by organizations. FYI the inquiry started last September and the clock is ticking very loudly.

#5. Posted by time and money on May 15, 2017

Following #4 time frame.  53 million over 24 months = 2.2 million each month.  7 months or 15.4 million now used leaves the amount of 37.6 million spread over 300 families to be served.  When the money runs out before the work is completed, who will finish the job?

What is the break down in spending of 15.4 million dollars over the past 7 months?

Time is priceless and wasting time is stealing.

#6. Posted by sled dog on May 15, 2017

The inquiry will have no tangible results.

#7. Posted by Polly on May 16, 2017

I hope this enquiry helps people who are concerned about their missing
loved ones.
When I was a little girl we were told not to follow gypsies as they would
tie us up with barbed wire. It was just to try and keep us safe.
Now,all over the world, people are involved with drugs, alcohol and
protitution. What do they expect with the lifestyle they have chosen?
We should not be blaming the National Inquiry for people’s problems!
I am sure they will do what they can, but it comes down to people to
make their own judgement and choices.

#8. Posted by Marty on May 17, 2017

I hope this committee does well and is beneficial.
The problem we have in Nunavut is there are so many committees for
education, suicide prevention, recreation, and poor housing, and
nothing is accomplished.
Too many freeloaders enjoying a lazy lifestyle and big money!
Good luck to MMIW.

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