Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut July 25, 2016 - 7:00 am

Pauktuutit blasts Ottawa for lack of Inuit rep on MMIWG inquiry

“I cannot understand how in 2016 we are still not being included"

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada president Rebecca Kudloo says the organization was concerned to learn that the five-member commission overseeing the inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women would not include an Inuk. (FILE PHOTO )
Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada president Rebecca Kudloo says the organization was concerned to learn that the five-member commission overseeing the inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women would not include an Inuk. (FILE PHOTO )

The national organization representing Inuit women, Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, says it’s concerned and “saddened” by the apparent lack of an Inuk commissioner within the upcoming federal inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

The federal government has not formally announced who will serve as inquiry commissioners. But according to a report, based on leaked information, published July 21 in the Globe and Mail, the five-person commission will include Qajaq Robinson, an Igloolik-raised, Ottawa-based lawyer, who is not Inuk, but who speaks Inuktitut fluently.

Robinson, an Akitsiraq law school graduate who now works for the Borden Ladner Gervais law firm, worked earlier this year with Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and Tungasuvvingat Inuit on a pre-consultation exercise in four Inuit regions.

The other four proposed commissioners, according to the Globe and Mail, are the former president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, Michèle Audette, Métis law professor Marilyn Poitras and B.C. provincial court judge Marion Buller, and an unnamed person described as a First Nations lawyer.

After months of cross-country consultations, the federal government has begun to circulate a draft plan to Indigenous groups and governments, including a draft list of the names of five commissioners who are proposed for the inquiry.

As part of recommendations they submitted to the federal government earlier this year during those consultations, Pauktuutit asked that one Inuk woman and one Inuit man serve on the commission; and if only one Inuk member is appointed, Pauktuutit said that person should be a woman.

“It was our expectation from the beginning that we would have an Inuk commissioner and that our recommendations to the federal government would be honoured,” Pauktuutit president Rebecca Kudloo said in a July 22 release, which appeared the day after the Globe and Mail story.

“I am sorry to say that we have not been successful and as of today, it is my understanding that not one of the five commissioners will be an Inuk woman.”

Kudloo said the organization has worked diligently as “diplomats and negotiators” through the consultation process, with the trust of family members who have lost loved ones.

“As Inuit women, most of us live in regions with the highest rates of violence in the country,” Kudloo said.

“I cannot understand how in 2016 we are still not being included in our own right as full participants in these historic opportunities.”

Pauktuutit’s issue with a non-Inuk commissioner is not personal, she added, but a matter of principal; for the inquiry to be of maximum benefit to Inuit, it must be led by Indigenous women.

“I apologize if you feel we have let you down,” Kudloo said, directing her comment to “the family members who have put their trust in us.”

Kudloo called on the federal government to re-consider its approach to reconciliation and gender equality as it decides how to shape the inquiry.

“We remain committed to helping make this inquiry meaningful for Inuit women and girls as well as our families who have suffered such profound losses,” Kudloo said.

The federal government has committed $40 million over two years to conduct the inquiry.

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