Inquiry commission seeking two more year and an additional $50 million.
The Yukon says it continues to support the current Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and its request for a two-year extension and additional $50 million. The Chief Commissioner Marion Buller Tuesday says two more years are needed to do justice to the group's critical mandate. She says the inquiry has officially asked for an extension, noting that the response from families, survivors and Indigenous communities has been overwhelmingly strong.
Yukon’s Minister Responsible for the Women’s Directorate Jeanie Dendys (Mountainview) says the Commission is doing good work, which needs to be supported. “We knew that there would be a request for an extension a couple of months ago, when we spoke directly to the Commissioner. We're supportive of it. It's really important that we get this right and take the times that needed to ensure that all of the families and for an thorough investigation and take the time for the research.” “Its a huge job, it's a huge task. One of the messages that I've delivered many times is that most of the Commissioners are women, Indigenous women, and we stand behind them and we hold them up.” Dendys stated.
While governments continue to support the Commission, Chiefs at the grassroots level are showing more impatience, especially at the leadership structure. Grand Chief Sheila North Wilson, who represents a group of about 30 First Nations in northern Manitoba, says in a post to social media that she can't support the extension without changes to the commission's leadership. She was one of several high-profile chiefs across the country who called for Buller to resign in order to reset a process they described as falling apart.
More pressure mounted to have Buller removed in December, where Indigenous leaders at a special gathering of chiefs hosted by the Assembly of First Nations approved a non-binding resolution against Buller. Yet other organizations call for the support of the Inquiry. The Native Women's Association of Canada supports the revised timeline, saying more time is necessary for the commission to fulfil its mandate. The group's president, Francyne Joe, says the extension will allow the inquiry to hear from survivors and family members who want to share their stories and more thoroughly uncover the systemic causes of violence against Indigenous women.
For Dendys, it's easy to support the inquiry. “I think the are doing really thorough work. We were happy with the interim report. It reflected a lot of what happened here in the Yukon.” “Having the Commission start in the Yukon and having our families be so brave to be the first voices to be heard in the Inquiry. We stand behind our families. And we stand behind the 763 witnesses who have testified. That is really where our support has come from.”
Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett confirmed Tuesday she received the commissioners' request and would consider a response after consulting Indigenous partners and her provincial and territorial counterparts.
With files from the Canadian Press
(Dan Jones Whitehorse March 7, 2018)