June 16, 2017 (Ottawa, ON) – The national Indigenous organizations (NIOs) assembled in Ottawa yesterday to receive updates on progress and strategies from representatives of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (National Inquiry) including Chief Commissioner Marion Buller and Commissioners Brian Eyolfson, Marilyn Poitras, and Qajaq Robinson. Also in attendance were the Executive Director Michèle Moreau, Director of Communications Bernée Bolton and Director of Community Relations Waneek Horn-Miller. Commissioner Michèle Audette and Lead Commission Counsel Susan Vella joined the Ottawa assembly via teleconference, Delilah Saunders attended on behalf of the Family Advisory Circle, and Grandmother and Elder Blu Waters provided opening and closing addresses. The meeting was co-chaired by Jean Teillet on behalf of the NIOs and Commissioner Marilyn Poitras on behalf of the National Inquiry.
The meeting was held in response to a joint letter from the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP), Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), Pauktuutit and Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak (Women of the Métis Nation/WMN) expressing dissatisfaction with the degree of their involvement, disappointment with the lack of information received from the National Inquiry to date, and offering renewed support. Joined today by the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), the leadership of the NIOs sat down for the first face-to-face meeting between the NIOs and the National Inquiry since an informal meet and greet in February.
Some updates on work plans and the Inquiry’s communications strategy were shared. Highlights of the discussions and shared commitments include:
- The development of an agreed upon schedule of meetings and milestones, including face-to-face meetings of this group on a quarterly basis. One Commissioner will join biweekly teleconferences with the NIOs and more formalized frameworks such as Memoranda of Understanding the individual NIOs will be determined as required;
- That work plans and schedules of community, institutional, and expert hearings would be shared well in advance; and
- A shared commitment to work to include small, remote and isolated communities and hard to reach families and individuals through appropriate and relevant communication that is rooted in Indigenous culture and languages.The meeting concluded with an understanding and agreement that trust must be rebuilt between the National Inquiry and families and survivors, NIOs and other indigenous organizations and the general public. NIOs in attendance expressed relief that the National Inquiry recognizes their value in this process and are poised to take action in embracing the expertise, experience, and outreach capabilities of their organizations. Barring the possibility of discussing all of the proposed agenda items in one afternoon, a commitment was made to meet again by teleconference in two weeks to conclude these discussions. The NIOs look forward to receiving information about the work plans, specific commitments as to the frequency of updates, and further meetings with the National Family Advisory Circle. The establishment of an Inuit Nunangat Advisory Committee will be prioritized and act as key advisors to the National Inquiry. A calendar of truth gathering hearings will be posted online and shared by other means as soon as possible in order to allow families and communities time to prepare.
“I look forward to strengthening relationships of trust and sharing with the organizations,” said Chief Commissioner Marion Buller.
Chief Commissioner Marion Buller, National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
Robert Bertrand, National Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples
Francyne Joe, Interim President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada
Rebecca Kudloo, President of Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada
Melanie Omeniho, President of the Women of the Métis Nation
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