Hard reset for inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women demanded

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017 11:19am


Image Caption

Chief Commissioner Marion Buller

An open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is making the rounds on Facebook. It calls for the Prime Minister to reset the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, saying families, communities, and survivors have lost all faith in the commissioners of the inquiry.

It is signed “A Coalition of Families, Relations, and Grassroots Organizers of MMIWGT2S from Across Canada” and states the coalition represents 180 family members and over 80 supporters. It is a re-release of a letter to government from August, and was delivered to Trudeau Oct. 4 by Maggie Cywink at the Families of Sisters in Spirit Annual Vigil in Ottawa.

Over the long weekend, two more key people employed by the inquiry have quit. Director of research Aimeé Craft’s resignation is effective on Nov. 1 and lead commission counsel Susan Vella’s resignation was effective immediately. These resignations follow on the heels of other high profile senior staff departures over the summer months, and come a day after the inquiry named a new executive director.

Debbie Reid from the Skownan First Nation in Manitoba was hired to the position. She was a special adviser to former Assembly of First Nations national chief Phil Fontaine.

“With Debbie having just begun her work, the Commissioners are working with her to see what changes to the organizational structure — including the research and legal functions — could help us to streamline the work of the Inquiry as we remain focused on delivering on our promises to survivors, families and our communities,” read Chief Commissioner Marion Buller’s public statement on Saturday. Since then, there have been renewed calls for the resignation of Buller.

The letter says “a hard reset and restructuring is needed for this National Inquiry to succeed. The letter states agreement with the Prime Minister that the inquiry was never going to be easy. But “difficulty and dysfunction are not the same,” the letter reads.

“The difficulty does not give the Commissioners the right to ignore so many voices and to continue harmful processes that are causing damage to our communities and creating further harms for Indigenous women, girls, trans, and two-spirit persons,” reads the letter. It calls for safe and inclusive spaces, and for “families and communities to be at the heart of the process, not isolated, ignored, and targeted by further forms of harm”.

The letter calls the inquiry’s processes “collateral violence” and “deeply flawed”.

To read the entire letter go to https://www.scribd.com/document/361178406/October-10-Open-Letter-From-Families-Survivors-And-Supporters-of-MMIWGT2S-Calling-for-Immediate-Action-From-PM-Justin-Trudeau-to-Reset-the-Nationa