Carolyn Bennett: Inquiry into missing & murdered Aboriginal women to begin within 2 weeks

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Carolyn Bennett: Inquiry into missing & murdered Aboriginal women to begin within 2 weeks

November 10, 2015

The Canadian Press

OTTAWA – The Liberal government will begin the process within the next “couple of weeks” of consulting Canadians on how best to proceed with an inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women, the country’s new indigenous affairs minister says.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Carolyn Bennett indicated that the start of pre-inquiry consultations will be announced before the end of the month.

“I think that we feel that we will need to make an announcement shortly,” Bennett said in an interview Monday.

“Within … a couple of weeks, we’ll have to be able to launch what we think is the best possible process for a pre-inquiry engagement.”

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Full article:

http://globalnews.ca/news/2329813/inquiry-into-missing-and-murdered-abor...

Unionist

Debater, your thread title is inaccurate. Please ask the mods to change it.

 

Debater

The title is accurate -- it is taken straight from the Global News article.

Although I guess it's the pre-Inquiry part that will begin in the next 2 weeks.

So perhaps what Global should have said is that the consultation phase about how to set up the Inquiry will begin in 2 weeks, and then the Official Inquiry phase will come after that.

But the point is that the wheels are now turning and something is getting done.

Even the Conservatives are now changing their tune because of the Liberal initiative -- Ambrose has agreed to support the vote on the Inquiry.

ilha formosa

It strikes me as quite offensive and idiotic for someone to say that an inquiry isn't needed because most of these murders are "solved."

The point of an inquiry is not to "solve" them (that's what police should do), it's to lower the numbers by inquiring into why they are happening. For that, data and other research is needed, something the previous fed gov't was unable to understand.

Sean in Ottawa

ilha formosa wrote:

It strikes me as quite offensive and idiotic for someone to say that an inquiry isn't needed because most of these murders are "solved."

The point of an inquiry is not to "solve" them (that's what police should do), it's to lower the numbers by inquiring into why they are happening. For that, data and other research is needed, something the previous fed gov't was unable to understand.

I agree. Completely misses the point that an inquiry is about cause and prevention as well as investigating injustice and prejudice in influencing the justice and police systems not solving in the sense of finding a perpetrator.

 

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Minister criticized for excluding women’s groups from consultations on MMIW inquiry

Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett is travelling to major cities until mid-February to meet with groups that include victims’ family members, loved ones and survivors, using the information they provide to “design” the inquiry. This comes on the heels of the federal government’s decision to support an inquiry post-election.

As Bennett arrived in Vancouver, frontline advocates for the Downtown Eastside expressed concern that there is too much focus on families and not enough on helping potential victims and the systems that fail them.

Members of the Women’s Memorial March Committee gathered in Vancouver on Tuesday to talk about what they believe should happen as talks about the inquiry continue.

Committee chairwoman Fay Blaney, a survivor of violence, has been pushing for an inquiry for many years as well as working to help women in the area of the city where serial killer Robert Pickton notoriously preyed on vulnerable women.

“The status of Indigenous women has to be at the top of the agenda,” Blaney said. “We experience violence not only in our own communities but we experience it from the broader population.”

Blaney said she is concerned that the government is “privileging and prioritizing blood relatives” of victims during its meetings, including its consultation in Prince George on Friday.

She added that she is worried that the timeline for the consultations is too short and that women’s groups with important information are getting pushed aside in favour of family members who are clamouring to be heard after years of being silenced....

mark_alfred

Missing, murdered Indigenous women inquiry details coming next week

Quote:

Details of a long-awaited national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls are expected to be released Wednesday, sources tell CBC News.

Some felt they weren't consulted enough, complaining that the terms of reference lack teeth.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/terms-of-reference-mmiw-i...

mark_alfred

http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/pamela-palmater/2016/08/if-it-doesnt-tac...

Good article by Pamela Palmater on the process leading up to the national inquiry on murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls.  She says the government promised "the pre-inquiry engagement process and the inquiry itself were to be done within a new political context -- one that focused on openness," and initially this seemed the case, as meetings were announced and feedback elicited and consultation happened.  However, she writes that things began to change, leading some to wonder when the government would "establish a table to begin jointly drafting the terms of reference" for the Inquiry. 

Quote:
Such a table was never established. Instead, we only found out that the terms of reference were in fact being unilaterally drafted by federal and provincial governments when they were leaked to the press.  Shortly thereafter, the names of the commissioners were also leaked. This is when it became very clear that the government reverted to its old secretive ways and had no real intention of working on a nation-to-nation basis with First Nations. It was clear Trudeau's commitment to openness, transparency and working in partnership with Indigenous peoples had ended.

The draft terms of reference that were leaked to the press caused many concerns, as it seemed to ignore many of the concerns that people had shared with the government in previous meetings.  One concern she cites is, "There is no specific mandate to investigate police conduct".

She concludes the article with the following:

Quote:
Prime Minister Trudeau, you made a promise to us. It's up to you to force your Ministers to fulfill that promise. Convene a table this week so that Indigenous peoples can jointly draft the terms of reference and pick the Commissioners. Nothing less will live up to your Nation-to-Nation commitment. It's never too late.

http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/pamela-palmater/2016/08/if-it-doesnt-tac...

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..my bold

Unravelling the secrets of the National Inquiry

During Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s election campaign, he promised that, if elected, the Liberal’s first order of business would be to conduct a national inquiry into the thousands of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls in Canada. This was a welcome change from the former prime minister Stephen Harper’s position that not only would his Conservative government not hold an inquiry, but that it really wasn’t “high on his radar.” For their part, the Conservatives tried to blame First Nations men for the phenomenon and the RCMP tried to blame Indigenous women and girls for their alleged “high-risk” lifestyles. Harper’s epic political defeat resulted in a new Liberal government that could move ahead with the national inquiry. But, 17 months later, the inquiry still hasn’t started and is shrouded in so much secrecy that many families and advocates are growing increasingly skeptical.

It is exactly because police agencies across the country have routinely kept the families of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls — and the public — in the dark that this phenomenon has been allowed to continue. Despite having conducted a public engagement process to get feedback on how to construct the inquiry, the drafting of the Terms of Reference and selection process for commissioners were done in relative secrecy, ignoring much of the input they received. Were it not for media leaks, most of us would have been blindsided when they announced the Terms of Reference (TOR)....

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

PM sidesteps calls to reboot inquiry into murdered, missing Indigenous women

quote:

Marilyn Poitras, a Metis professor from Saskatchewan, said she felt regret and a "heavy heart" as she made her decision to resign, saying she strongly feels the terms of reference for the inquiry "have not been met."

While the commission says it will move ahead despite Poitras' resignation and the departure of other staff members, a coalition of frustrated families think it's time to start over.

Some of their concerns include a lack of information about how the inquiry's hearings will work and fears they will retraumatize vulnerable survivors and loved ones.

They also wonder why the commission held only a single hearing in Whitehorse in the span of almost a year.

"We are asking you, prime minister, to live by your words to build nation-to-nation relationships," the group said in a letter to Trudeau circulated Thursday. "The time has come to restart this top-down inquiry and rebuild it from the ground up."

Melanie Omeniho, president of Women of the Metis Nation, said Thursday that her organization believes Poitras felt the commission was "overly risk averse" and too concerned with legalities, resulting in a fear of communicating with families and Indigenous leadership.

"Moving forward, we urge the commissioners to engage with families, not on the basis of legal risk but as a family-first, trauma informed process," she said in a statement.

NDPP

"Sunday on Checkup: We discuss the future of the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls."

https://twitter.com/checkupcbc/status/885935850600706049

Rev Pesky

A CBC interview with Marilyn Poitras:

Marilyn Poitras on why she resigned

"My main concern is that this commission is going down a tried road. We've been studied, we've been researched, we've gone and looked at Indians, and half-breeds and Inuit people for a long time to see what's the problem.

"You tell us your sad story and we'll figure out what to do with you. And we're headed down that same path. And if it worked, we would all be so fixed and healthy by now. It doesn't work.

​..."The consensus based-model was resulting in taking too long to make decisions. And I wasn't in favour of it.

"Having a majority rule means there's a minority. And as an Indigenous person, being a minority is usually a problem.

"And so I was often the one that was the minority in that voting.

​..."If your expectation is hearings and families telling stories, that's not failure, that's success. Justice systems and commissions and inquiries and inquests are set up to do certain things and if they do what they're set up to do then you can't be disappointed by it. Police look for people who have committed crimes and they put them through a criminal justice process and they end up in jail or not... that's the way that system works. So if it's a commission set up for hearings, to hear family stories, it's going to be successful.

"But it's not going to get at the roots of systemic systemic violence. I don't know how it's going to do that."

I encourage everyone to read this interview in full. I have read it, and I still have no idea what the problem was.

6079_Smith_W

I thought she explained the problems quite clearly without offering specific examples. Thing is, those examples would probably not have been appropriate given the nature of their work.

But that is hardly necessary, since the points are clear, from the hierarchical nature of the process to the refusal to work through consensus, and the fact she often found herself as the person in opposition on decisions.

One of the people interviewed in a news report on this echoed that complaint, saying that seeing victims' family members being sworn in to tell the truth made her feel as if they were accused and on trial.

 

Rev Pesky

From 6079_Smith_W:

But that is hardly necessary, since the points are clear, from the hierarchical nature of the process to the refusal to work through consensus...

From Marilyn Poitras:

..."The consensus based-model was resulting in taking too long to make decisions. And I wasn't in favour of it.

I would say, taking the direct quote from Marilyn Pointras at face value, that she was opposed to the consensus model. She was also opposed to was being the minority. But in any situation where 'majority rules', there will be a majority and a minority. What Poitras did was hint at the possibility that she was the lone 'Indigenous' person. That is not true. Five out of five of the commissioners are First nations, four of those five are women, and three of the five directors are First Nations, and all five are women. So if Poitras was a minority, it wasn't because of her status, or her gender, it was because of her ideas.

Here's a link to the website for the Inquiry

National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

Frankly, Smith, I think you should re-read the interview, and then take a look at the Inquiry website. 

6079_Smith_W

I did read it, Rev. If the commissioners are being divided into majority and minority by a voting process then they aren't reaching consensus in the sense of a common understanding, whatever she meant by that comment. My guess is it is an expectation that she consent to go along with that majority on the commission.

I get that you might see a contradiction there, but the bottom line is that her complaint seems clear to me.

And I think more telling than the website is the concerns of victims' families - who are the ones who did the real work in forcing the government to establish this inquiry in the first place.  These recent resignations and postponement and lack of communication are an indication that it isn't just a matter of the commission needing a lot of time to get down to the job. It is a matter of it becoming yet another colonial process. From January:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/mmiw-inquiry-low-grades-nwac-1.3922673

The fact that someone is Indigenous doesn't mean they can't support that hierarchical and paternalistic approach. That seems to be what she is talking about.

 

Rev Pesky

From 6079_Smith_W:

I get that you might see a contradiction there, but the bottom line is that her complaint seems clear to me.

And what specifically was that complaint? She didn't say anything about hierarchy, paternalism or colonialism.

Poitras' single complaint seemed to be that she was a minority amongst the comissioners. But what sort of minority? All the comissioners are First Nations, four out of five of the comissioners, and five out of five of the directors are women. The only possible way she could be a minority is if the others didn't think they way she did.

And let's be clear. Poitras said right out that she wasa opposed to the process of consensus, as were the rest of the comissioners. It must be so because they decided to operate by majority rule. With five people voting, unless all vote the same, someone is going to be a minority. There is nothing paternalistic, hierarchical or colonial about it. 

You know, I'm not sure what else anyone could do. The comissioners were picked from the best and the brightest of First Nation women, all with exceptional experience dealing with the specific issues that were to be dealt with by the Inquiry.

As far as those who want to look at the police conduct in previous cases, that would be the end of the inquiry. There is no way that could be done without allowing legal representation from both the individual police officers involved, and the forces on which they served. Besides, what was it Poitras said about 'studying' this...

We've been studied, we've been researched, we've gone and looked at Indians, and half-breeds and Inuit people for a long time to see what's the problem.

"You tell us your sad story and we'll figure out what to do with you. And we're headed down that same path. And if it worked, we would all be so fixed and healthy by now. It doesn't work.

Okay, if that doesn't work, my question is, what does? What was Poitras' solution to this problem? I certainly didn't see any solution in the interview.

 

6079_Smith_W

That wasn't her sole complaint. She also recounted someone who joined the team expecting it to be community-driven, only to find it was a commission-driven process, which Poitras refered to as the "traditional colonial style".

And the old model of a commission listening to stories and coming up with a solution from the top down? That is paternalistic and hierarchical. And as she said, it has not worked in the past, and will not work now.

She said that for the commission to work it needed to find a new trajectory and include the community in the resolution and solution-finding.

And her last comment in the interview is this:

"So if it's a commission set up for hearings, to hear family stories, it's going to be successful.

"But it's not going to get at the roots of systemic systemic violence. I don't know how it's going to do that."

But again, if you really want to look at what is not working, you only have to look at the conccerns raised by victims' families in that CBC article.

Rev Pesky

From 6079_Smith_W:

But again, if you really want to look at what is not working, you only have to look at the conccerns raised by victims' families in that CBC article.

I read through it, and I don't see any positive suggestions for how this Inquiry may be made to work. I don't really see any direct complaints about the way it's working, either.

The only two solid things I've seen are, one, Marilyn Poitras was disappoined  because she was often in the minority when decisions were made by the commissioners, and two, some people wanted previous cases to be re-opened, which I've already pointed out is a sure way to end the Inquiry.

So, let's hear some positive suggestions. Where would you go from here? Collapse the commission, then, what? Someone did say it should be more community driven, so let's start there. How do we make this more community driven?

 

6079_Smith_W

Recommending that the commission should move beyond the collection of stories to try and deal with the root causes of violence in our society seems like a very concrete and positive recommendation to me.

And communicating with the families of the murdered and missing, and inviting them into the organizing process is a good way to make it more community driven.

Both those things have been mentioned already.

The grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, Sheila North Wilson, agrees that families and community members need to be front and centre in the inquiry. She is also calling for the resignation of lead commissioner Marion Buller.

"I think there's a lot of internal turmoil that needs to be addressed and there's clearly a lack of leadership that is hindering the process, and grassroots people themselves were not consulted," said North Wilson.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/mmiwg-inquiry-poitras-resignation-fami...

North Wilson also said the commission's terms of reference need to be changed in order for it to be successful.

 

Rev Pesky

Frankly I don't think there's any changes that will make the inquiry successful. I suggest that it be stopped immediately, and let those people who complained the loudest about it set up their own inquiry.

Then we'll see what a real inquiry looks like. 

 

Rev Pesky

And now it looks exactly like that is what's going to happen. 

Families slam 'colonial' inquiry process

The problem-plagued inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls has lost another key staffer as dozens of family members, activists and academics have written an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau demanding the "deeply misguided" inquiry get a hard reset.

CBC has confirmed Waneek Horn-Miller, who was the director of community engagement, is leaving the inquiry to focus on her family.

At the time of her appointment in February, the Mohawk former Olympian, media personality and health advocate called the job a "mission."

..."They have continually dismissed our concerns, refused to take steps to rebuild trust, and have maintained a deeply misguided approach that imposes a harmful, colonial process on us," the letter reads. "This has and continues to create trauma as well as insecurity and a lack of safety for our families, communities, and loved ones." 

...Instead of drawing on Indigenous knowledge and practices, the inquiry has been rooted in a colonial model that prioritizes a Eurocentric medical and legal framework, it reads.

"Such an approach is rooted in a broader culture of colonial violence that is inherently exploitative towards Indigenous peoples and causes ongoing trauma and violence for us as families," the letter says.

It is time for the existing commissioners to resign, and let the letter writers build their own inquiry. I don't see any other way that those letter writers will be satisfied.

6079_Smith_W

Considering it is that same group which pressured the government into establishing this commission, I have no doubt they have the ability to do just that.

Though I wouldn't put down the importance of writing letters. It isn't the only way to exert pressure, and not the only work that has been done by the families of murdered and missing indigenous women, but as anyone involved with Amnesty International can tell you, letters do get results.

Rev Pesky

From 6079_Smith_W:

Considering it is that same group which pressured the government into establishing this commission, I have no doubt they have the ability to do just that.

Was it indeed the same people? You know this how?

As far as that goes, there has been nothing preventing that 'group' from conducting their own inquiry. If those opposing the existing inquiry were in fact those who wanted the government to institute an inquiry, what prevented them from dictating the terms of the inquiry as it was being set up?

Who knows, maybe those opposed to the existing inquiry found there were too many First Nations women running the show. Perhaps more men would have been appropriate.