November 24, 2017

OTTAWA – Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada is deeply disheartened that the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls has suddenly postponed their meeting in Rankin Inlet. President Rebecca Kudloo said ‘I want the families to know that we care about you and we are here for you. We were not informed about this decision beforehand and we did not agree. We could have worked with them to find another location.’ She added ‘We have tried to work with them but they haven’t really been working with us. We have been trying to help them since the Inquiry began last year. This could have been different. They could have come to my community of Baker Lake. They would have been made very welcome.’

The Inquiry’s lack of communication continues to be a problem for organizations and for the victim’s families despite the Chief Commissioner’s acknowledgement that this would be improved. There is still no public schedule of any other hearing locations across Inuit Nunangat. This is very confusing and concerning given the Inquiry has said they will complete their family hearings for the families early next year.

Pauktuutit has asked for an Inuit Nunangat Advisory Committee for the Inquiry from the beginning. The Inquiry agreed this was a priority in February but it is still not in place. This advisory committee could have assisted the Inquiry in avoiding what happened with Rankin Inlet as they plan their Inuit Nunangat hearings. The Inquiry seems to be resistant to advice from Pauktuutit and other organizations.

Kudloo continued, ‘Families have geared up and prepared for this process only to have it postponed with little information about future hearings. I was scheduled to attend this hearing personally to be there for the families and have now cancelled my reservations. Instead, I am now dedicating time to support family members affected by this change to support them while they process their own trauma and hurt. The Inquiry says they work in a trauma informed way but they are harming people. The Inquiry needs to stop playing with people’s lives.’ Pauktuutit has repeatedly advocated for good, culturally relevant health supports before, during and long after a family may testify.

As Kudloo and Pauktuutit have stated previously, ‘We have tried to work with the Inquiry but they haven’t been working with us. This could have been different, it didn’t have to be postponed. We are here to the help the Inquiry and we want to support the families who are involved but things need to change. It is hard to not criticize the Inquiry when they have not told organizations and communities anything.’

Kudloo concluded, ‘I urge the Inquiry to work with Pauktuutit and others. We can help with a smooth coordinated approach. We want it to work for the families. We will be here to work with them but things have to change. Inuit are being put through a roller coaster of emotions.’

Pauktuutit will continue to support Inuit families and communities as they may wish to engage with the Inquiry.

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