MMIW inquiry needs more time, money 'to do the job properly'
Family members say they've lost faith in the commissioners and the current process, which Marion Buller says is roughly at the halfway point.
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The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls needs more time and more money, officials said Wednesday, as well as a national police task force to re-open and re-investigate cases.
As they have done in the past, commissioners said in their interm report that the government’s hiring policies consistently make it difficult for the inquiry to move forward.
Chief Commissioner Marion Buller said the inquiry, which is roughly at the halfway point of their mandate, needs more time to finish the work.
“We need enough time to do the job properly, to hear from families and survivors who want to speak to us.”
She didn’t say how much of either time or money she needs, but pointed to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which had five years to complete its mandate. She said unlike the tragedy of residential schools, what is happening to Indigenous women is a current day tragedy and a historic one.
“Today, as we are here in this room, Indigenous women and girls are suffering violence that somehow has become normalized," she said. "That is a national tragedy.”
The commissioners also called for the government to fund a national police task force to re-open and re-investigate cases that come to them.
Commissioner Qajaq Robinson said there are cases that need a second look, but the original investigators don’t have the necessary trust.
“Many families in Indigenous communities do not trust the institutions that are currently in place.”
The task force could draw from several police agencies, the commissioner said. Buller said most importantly, however, it needs to have victims' confidence.
“Trust is very important and trust will have to be earned.”
Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett was non-committal on either an extension or the proposed task force.
She said she was open to the extension, but also wary of dragging it on too long.
“The commissioner has also heard from families that they want closure, and certainly in the pre-inquiry we heard time and time again that they don’t want this to take forever,” she said.
John Fox lost his daughter Cheyenne to what Toronto police labelled as a suicide. He said he would welcome a task force to take a second look at cases.
“Our case got closed by Toronto police," Fox said. "They closed our file shortly after my daughter died and that was one of the things I asked for.”
He said he’s lost faith in the commissioners and the current process, and wants the entire effort restarted. He said the time crunch has been a factor but generally they’re not doing well.
“They’re doing a very sloppy job. They’re rushing the process through they wanted to get this interim report due as quickly as possible.”