Madahbee says National Inquiry ‘cannot come soon enough’

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NIPISSING FIRST NATION—Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee says that he is pleased that an inquiry into murdered and missing indigenous women has been announced by the federal government.

“The long-awaited official launch of the murdered and missing indigenous women inquiry that will begin September 1 cannot come soon enough for the families affected by the loss of their loved ones,” said Chief Madahbee, in the August 4 edition of Anishinabek News.

“This journey for them has been a long and emotional one,” said Chief Madahbee. “I commend the families and their supporters for their relentless determination to have the federal government commit to a national inquiry that promises to welcome families to tell their stories in a safe and culturally-supportive environment. I encourage the commissioners to listen with open hearts and minds, and ultimately to seek genuine lasting solutions for a better world for our people.”

Meanwhile, Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day welcomes last week’s announcement on the inquiry and says “we must rally behind the commissioners and support the families in the critical work they will carry out over the next two years.”

“On behalf of the Chiefs of Ontario, I welcome the announcement of this long overdue inquiry into this national crisis and want to acknowledge the families, the women’s groups and the indigenous organizations for taking the lead and pushed the federal government for an inquiry,” said Chief Day. “The MMIW inquiry’s mandate is slated to end in 2018 and in the meantime, we look forward to an interim report which should contain immediate recommendations and direct action. We will continue to adhere to the ‘Families First’ philosophy and look forward to working with, and providing support to, the commissioners and the regional liaison representatives.”

Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and Status of Women Minister Patty Hajdu unveiled the plan for the missing and murdered indigenous women inquiry August 3.

The government announced the five-person panel and the budget set at $53.86 million, topped up from the $40 million budget commitment. Justice Canada is also providing an additional $16.17 million over four years to create family information liaison units in each province and territory and to increase funding for culturally appropriate victims services. The inquiry will begin September 1 and run until December 31, 2018, at a cost estimated at $53.8 million.

“We have known for years what many of these recommendations should look like,” said Chief Day. “Canada’s inquiry into murdered and missing indigenous women and girls is a direct result of the generational impact of residential schools combined with today’s child welfare crisis, which stems from poverty and despair. I want this inquiry to examine the factors driving a systemic, high rate of violence against indigenous women and girls and the role of justice institutions like police forces and coroners’ offices.”

“As the inquiry will seek to accomplish the development of strong recommendations, many feel that it will not attempt to seek justice for specific cases or correct an investigation to a case gone cold,” said Chief Day. “Our families and First Nations must have an oversight and advocacy process that will seek justice immediately. Many cases where police agencies are in question must not be lost along this path. We must continue to seek to have these justice mechanisms built into the process.”