News / Winnipeg

Interim report on missing, murdered Indigenous women lacks new information: Advocates

The report, released Wednesday, makes a number of recommendations, including a national police task force.

Isabel Daniels weeps as she speaks of her murdered cousin Nicole Daniels to commissioner Michelle Audette at the opening day of hearings at the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Winnipeg, Monday, October 16, 2017.

JOHN WOODS / The Canadian Press

Isabel Daniels weeps as she speaks of her murdered cousin Nicole Daniels to commissioner Michelle Audette at the opening day of hearings at the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Winnipeg, Monday, October 16, 2017.

Manitoba advocates say an interim report on the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women is a "regurgitation," while renewing calls for more time and more support.

The report, released Wednesday, makes a number of recommendations, including a national police task force, in which the inquiry could refer families and survivors to assess or reopen cases.

The report also calls for the establishment of a commemoration fund in collaboration with families, survivors and national and regional Indigenous organizations.

The final call to action is for additional funding to Health Canada's Resolution Health Support Program to expand services and meet increased needs from the inquiry’s work.

If the police task force is established, it must be independent and Indigenous-led, said Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Sheila North Wilson.

She said families need greater support when searching for those who are missing.

“They spend a lot of time, and their own money, and their own resources to find their loved ones," she said. "If the police and justice systems are not supporting them to do that, give them the tools they need to do it.”

“The report is a good summary of past reports and useful in the context of educating the general public on the process. However, it falls short of capturing the magnitude of this national tragedy and the impacts it has on MMIWG families and survivors,” said North Wilson in an emailed statement.

The Manitoba Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Coalition called the interim report a “regurgitation of previous reports,” pointing out the need for better local representation.

“Commissioner Marion Buller referred to the historic numbers of participants in the Winnipeg hearings, yet fails to indicate the need for a Prairie commissioner or commissioners… more specifically from Manitoba,” reads a statement from the group.

The coalition believes a Manitoba commissioner would bring a greater understanding of MMIWG issues that are inclusive of historical and contemporary understanding of First Nations, Métis and Inuit people.

The federal government earmarked $53.8 million over two years for the inquiry. While not touching on exactly how much, Chief Commissioner Marion Buller—speaking from Ottawa on Wednesday—indicated more of both would be needed.

NDP MLA Bernadette Smith, whose sister Claudette Osborne-Tyo went missing in 2008, said the inquiry’s timeline was unrealistic to begin with.

“They do need more time. We’re only going to be able to do this once, we need to get as close to perfect as possible and limiting the time is only going to create possible mistakes and leave lots of people out,” she said.

Smith supports the recommendations made in the report, but added “I think the federal government needs to step up to the plate and offer those services… making sure that [they are] available to families that need support.”

With files from the Canadian Press

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