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While missing or murdered Indigenous women inquiry stalls, grim list grows: Kabatay

This process is in trouble. Whenever there is news, it’s about a setback and never about the push forward.

Greta Jack, right, pauses for a moment as she speaks about her deceased sister Barbara as brother Bryan and Lorraine look on at the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls taking place in Whitehorse, Yukon, Thursday, June 1, 2017.

THE CANADIAN PRESS

Greta Jack, right, pauses for a moment as she speaks about her deceased sister Barbara as brother Bryan and Lorraine look on at the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls taking place in Whitehorse, Yukon, Thursday, June 1, 2017.

Another delay, another family living in pain waiting for answers.

On Tuesday, a Manitoba grand chief called for the resignation of the national missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls inquiry’s chief commissioner.

Last week, the inquiry’s executive director resigned, the fourth staffer to resign in the month of June.

In May, the inquiry held its first public meeting with families in Whitehorse, but has since announced plans to delay testimonies from other families until the fall.

That means only two communities will be heard from within a year. It’s not enough for the families of victims, and it’s definitely not enough for an inquiry.

This process is in trouble. Whenever there is news, it’s about a setback and never about the push forward.

Even if the commissioners do manage to finish in the two years allotted, will people take the results seriously or will the troubles along the way overshadow the entire exercise?

Resigning staffers and delays have distracted from the serious issues still facing Indigenous women.

An RCMP report found almost 1,200 cases of missing or murdered Indigenous women from 1980 until 2012. Activists say the number is closer to 4,000. And as the inquiry stalls, more names are being added to the dreaded list.

On Tuesday, Barbara Kentner, an Indigenous woman who was hit by a trailer hitch thrown at her from a moving car in Thunder Bay, Ont., died from her injuries.

This inquiry’s approach must change now. And what better way to correct the course than by looking at what has already been done.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission did four years of listening to thousands of residential school victims recounting their stories. After it began hearings in Winnipeg in 2010, more than 300 communities were visited. The commission was given five years and a budget of $60 million.

Compare that to the two years and $53.8 million allotted for the MMIWG inquiry. The time given is simply not enough time to do a full and thorough job. It is frankly set up to fail.

But the biggest mistake of all throughout this process is leaving out the families of victims.

If this inquiry is to restart, the government has to take a different approach. The commission must communicate with families about the ongoing process instead of leaving them in the dark.

Now is the time to reflect back on what it’s doing right and what is going wrong.

Start with including the family in the process. After all, it is for them and their healing.

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