OPINION: Union of BC Indian Chief
The day after thousands of vigils were held on Dec. 6 across Canada in memorial to the lives of women lost to gender-based violence, Indigenous Nations made it clear that the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls is in shambles.
Instead of being an independent public inquiry that had been long called for, what we have is a federally driven, bureaucratic mess.
All delegates gathered at the Dec. 7 Assembly of First Nations Special Chiefs Assembly in Ottawa mutually agreed that fundamental changes must be made to the Inquiry before an extension of more time or more money is granted. Numerous high-level resignations, the lack of a coordinated or clear plan, and the re-traumatization of many affected by this inquiry demonstrate that something must change.
Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Union of BC Indian Chiefs Executive Member, stated, “Families need healing and their stories must be told. For justice and actionable change however, we must see a deeper and more meaningful investigation of the systems and societal issues that perpetuate this violence against our Indigenous women. As it is, this inquiry has demonstrated that it is not capable of leading such an in-depth investigation: it’s time for change.”
For immediate change to get the inquiry on track the AFN resolution calls for bringing those affected by these tragedies together for a national gathering and for them to determine a path forward independently of politicians or bureaucrats.
As raised in the discussions, changes must include a new working environment for the inquiry staff and commissioners, which could be achieved by reappointing or replacing the Chief Commissioner done in coordination and involvement with family members, families of the heart, and survivors, something which should have been done from the start.
It is of utmost importance that changes be made without delay to ensure the success of an Inquiry under this government’s mandate. The changes called for in Resolution 2017-57 must be implemented, not merely committed to, as this new resolution calls for.
The National Inquiry is of utmost importance, yet must be done properly – this is the signal the resolution is sending to the Prime Minister