BC Chief says direct First Nations engagement critical to MMIW inquiry

TK’EMLÚPS TE SECWÉPEMC TERRITORY/KAMLOOPS, BC – (CNW) BC Regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson says the draft Terms of Reference for the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Women lacks teeth and failed to engage important groups in the process.

The draft Terms of Reference were leaked to media yesterday. It is clear the Federal Government has not adequately engaged with those central to the process.

RC Gottfriedson said it is time the Federal Government be transparent and inclusive. “We are calling on the Federal Government for direct and meaningful engagement with family members, survivors, and national, provincial and regional representative organizations with respect to the inquiry.   The draft Terms of Reference must be strengthened. They do not provide the commissioners with the power to examine policing institutions, practices or protocols with respect to incidences where Indigenous women are report missing.”

BC AFN Women’s Representative Chief Marilyn Slett agrees that more engagement is necessary.  The Federal Government stated that “real change would require commitment and participation from all levels of government, National Aboriginal and other organizations, front-line service providers, communities and individuals working to a better future for Indigenous peoples in our country. ”

Slett said it is time to put those words into action.  “The inquiry must be designed in a way that brings some measure of closure to the families and communities who have lost grandmothers, mothers, sisters, aunts and friends. The terms of reference must include our input.”

Neither the Assembly of First Nations or RC Gottfriedson, the national portfolio lead on Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, have heard anything with respect to the development of the Terms of Reference or the identification of the five commissioners since the completion of the pre-inquiry sessions earlier this year.

The pre-inquiry sessions were held throughout the country earlier this year to assist in informing the framework for the inquiry. Minister Carolyn Bennett indicated last week at the AFN Annual General Assembly that the inquiry will begin once all Provinces and Territories have signed on.

In December 2015, the Federal Government made the announcement that they would carry out an inquiry and committed $40 million to do so.

The AFN has not been involved in any closed-door meetings with respect to the inquiry and have not been involved in the drafting of the Terms of Reference or the identification of the Commissioners,” he added.

SOURCE British Columbia Assembly of First Nations

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