National MMIW inquiry begins

THUNDER BAY ‑ After years of wrangling with an unsympathetic government, newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has officially begun the promised National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

On Tuesday, January 5, survivors, families and loved ones registered and attended orientation sessions to engage in phase one of the inquiry.

The next day, the sessions began with the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada Carolyn Bennett, the Minister of the Status of Women Patty Hajdu, and the Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould in attendance.

In the first phase of the pre-inquiry design process, the ministers heard directly from survivors and their families on how to design an inquiry that will result in concrete recommendations to work towards ending violence against Indigenous women and girls.

“I’m sure there will be many more meetings like this, maybe in Toronto, and I really want our people to be represented too,” says Six Nations Elected Chief Ava Hill. “I will be calling the minister to see how we can do that.”

She is very happy the Inquiry has begun, but is especially encouraged at how the pre-Inquiry phase is being set up, with direct inclusion from the survivors.

“It is excellent that they will be including us in how this inquiry is done,” she adds. “Usually in this kind of thing, it’s the government coming out and saying ‘this is how it will be.’”

The schedule for future meetings, which are closed to the public and the media, is as follows:

Yellowknife, Northwest Territories: January 8, 2016

Whitehorse, Yukon: January 11, 2016

Vancouver, British Columbia: January 13, 2016

Prince George, British Columbia: January 15, 2016

More meeting dates and locations will be announced by the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs in the future.

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