The national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women will begin next month and last two years. Details on the highly anticipated independent inquiry were announced this morning in Ottawa.
“The national inquiry will focus on the root causes of the disproportionate rates of violence, of crime against indigenous women and girls and on the extent of the vulnerability of violence.” Justice Minister Jody Wilson Raybould said “We need to identify the causes of those disparities and take action now.”
The inquiry’s mandate states the underlying factors could be a number of things, and that it will be up to the commission to decide what underlying factors it will decide to examine and report on.
The inquiry will be led by five commissioners and chaired by BC First Nations Judge Marion Buller.
The other four commissioners include;
-Michèle Audette, former President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada
-Qajaq Robinson, aboriginal issues lawyer, born in Nunavut
-Marilyn Poitras, University of Saskatchewan assistant professor of constitutional and aboriginal law
-Brian Eyolfson, First Nations and human rights lawyer, formerly the vice-chair of the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal,
Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett says the commissioners will have sweeping powers, that even the police will not be immune to.
“Provinces and territories are in the process of passing orders in council that will allow this inquiry to cover matters in their jurisdiction, making this a truly national inquiry. This commission will have the authority to summon witness and compel documents in all jurisdictions.”
In addition to policing, government institutions such as child welfare and the coroner’s service will be examined.
“Changing these attitudes and practices will require a steady and honest gaze.” said Status of Women’s Minister Patty Hajdu “The inquiry must also examine how racism and sexism are embedded in the very institutions that are supposed to help and protect women and girls.”
The inquiry will formally run from Sept 2016 to December 2018, with an interim report due in fall 2017. The total cost is budgeted at $53.86 million.