Ontario Regional Chief Offers Support to MMIW Inquiry Process

Action sought on a national inquiry into murdered and missing Anishinabek women
The Sisters in Spirit vigils bear witness to this national tragedy
Chief Isadore Day
Chief Isadore Day

THUNDER BAY – Families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls will have eight opportunities to make their voices heard this month alone as the federal government rolls out its initial process in preparation for a federal inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls this week.

“We offer our support to the families for having the courage to participate in this most important process and also commend the federal government and in particular Minister Carolyn Bennett for taking immediate action on this issue,” Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day said. “As the pre-engagement process unfolds, we must recognize that the families have waited a long time to be heard.”

Initial inquiry design meetings are set to be held in northern Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec, Nova Scotia and throughout the territories between Jan. 6 and Jan. 22. Additional meetings, which include ones in Toronto and Ottawa, will be announced in the coming weeks. The minister of Indigenous Affairs, Carolyn Bennett, and Minister of Status of Women, Patty Hajdu, are expected to be in attendance.

The purpose of the meetings is to figure out the form and scope of the eventual inquiry, which could begin later this year. The federal government announced the initial consultation process last month in Ottawa, saying a public inquiry will require input from survivors and families, right from the start.

“We know this is only a preliminary step and the federal government is being questioned about moving quickly. We called for action on this issue and they responded. It’s not a perfect process however the Chiefs of Ontario are monitoring the inquiry to identify opportunities to support the families,” said Regional Chief Day. “We need families to come forward during this initial process to help coordinate and shape the overall inquiry. If they cannot there are other options for them to participate and future opportunities to contribute.”

In February of 2015, the Chiefs in Ontario met with the families of MMIW and listened to their concerns and priorities. The call for an inquiry had gotten denied by the Harper Conservative government therefore the direction was given by the families to begin a process in Ontario that would begin the steps toward an Ontario First Nation-driven inquiry.

The launch of the ‘Who Is She’ campaign in September 2015 was successful and the education campaign for an inquiry vital in the steps to achieve awareness of the issue, generate needed funds to assist families, and set a process in place to help families through the painful process of inquiry and healing.

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