OTTAWA – Family members of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls met with government officials early Friday morning at an Ottawa hotel to begin the first of two phases for the newly announced inquiry.
Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, Status of Women Minister Patricia Hajdu and Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett met with the family members at Friday’s gathering, which was reported by APTN to include an opening prayer from an elder, opening remarks, a plenary session, a feast and smaller meetings which allowed each family member’s voice to be heard.
At the official announcement of the inquiry last Tuesday, Wilson-Raybould said the purpose of the first phase – which will include more meetings like the one held on Friday – is to consult with families to glean their input regarding terms of the inquiry.
“As a first step, we will meet with the families in the National Capital Region with the goal of hearing their views on the design of the inquiry and what it needs to achieve”, Wilson-Raybould said.
The first phase of the inquiry – referred to as the “design” phase – will also see the development of a website, according to Bennett.
“There will be an online component to this process. This will include a website that includes background information that can help all Canadians better understand this issue. It will also include an online survey and discussion guide available in the coming weeks.”
Six Nations Chief Ava Hill commended the Federal government on their proactive and collaborative approach.
“We welcome the federal government’s promise to establish this long awaited inquiry, and address this nation-wide tragedy. The first phase of this inquiry is a significant step towards ensuring that this process is inclusive, productive and accountable. Through a collaborative inquiry, we can meaningfully work together to finally bring justice to the families who lost their mothers, daughters, and sisters. The victims and their families have waited long enough, and they deserve nothing less. It is time for action”, Hill said in a press release.
The first phase is expected to last two months. Once officials have consulted with family members, they will then seek the input of national Indigenous organizations and a range of front-line service workers before moving on to phase two (which includes the actual inquiry), expected to begin in the spring of this coming year.