FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Originally posted July 11, 2017 (updated July 13) (Ottawa, ON) — On behalf of Pauktuutit I want to acknowledge and thank Commissioner Marilyn Poitras for her contribution to this historic National Inquiry Into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
It is important that the Commissioners and staff continue their work. We are here to support and help them in the best interest of Inuit family members and communities.
We have been clear about our questions and concerns about the Inquiry. We have asked for and still need to see the Inquiry’s plans including where and when they will hold hearings in the North, and the Inuit healing, communications and research plans.
Minister Bennett said this morning that she has now seen the Inquiry’s workplan and understands their vision and process. I have been asking for months for information about their plans to work with Inuit families and communities, and I am still waiting. I still don’t know the status of the Inuit Nunangat Advisory Circle that was committed to months ago. We need more information about the expert panel they will be holding at the end of August.
We want to see things work better. I have said from the beginning that they must have trauma-informed supports in place for families before the hearings, during the hearings and long after the Inquiry has left our communities. In the smaller communities, there may be a social worker but that person may not be Inuk, which can make it more difficult for people to talk about their experiences for the first time. It is even more difficult when we cannot speak in our own language.
I was very pleased to attend a meeting in Ottawa with all the Commissioners and national Indigenous leaders on June 15. As leaders, we raised our questions and concerns in a respectful and productive conversation. I have been asking questions for months about the lack of an Inuit focus, among the Commissioners and staff. I am particularly pleased that since that meeting, Natan Obed and I had a follow up meeting with Commissioner Robinson and she has agreed to be the Inuit lead among the Commissioners with the support of Pauktuutit and ITK. I am also very glad to see the Inuit staff come together as a team and contribute their expertise and leadership at the staff level.
Families want to see the inquiry move forward and we all understand th ere will be growing pains, but changes are needed. We do have questions about the need for another commissioner as they have a great deal of work to do in a short time. We are still concerned that there is not an Inuk commissioner. We hope there is an opprtuniy to make such an appointment.
We encourage the Inquiry to keep going and are here to help as we ca.
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