July 1 (Ottawa, ON) – As its Executive Director plans her withdrawal from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (National Inquiry), the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) maintains a vested interest in its success and continues to have numerous concerns as it reaches its tenth month of operation today. In a statement released via the National Inquiry last night, former Executive Director Michele Moreau’s departure for personal reasons was met with sadness by the National Inquiry.
Chantale Courcy, who had been functioning as Interim Executive Director before Moreau was hired, accepted a promotion within the Public Service Commission of Canada and officially resigned on June 12th, 2017. She was closely followed by staff member Tanya Kappo, whose association with the Inquiry had sent a positive message about the National Inquiry’s connection with grassroots movements and interest in hiring recognized Indigenous leaders.
“We want assurance that this setback will be dealt with quickly and that a First Nations, Inuit, or Métis woman or two-spirit person is appointed to the position of Executive Director. We need to see leadership that is already known to be strong within the Indigenous community,” stated NWAC Interim President Francyne D. Joe.
The fifth of such departures by staff since the National Inquiry’s launch on September 1st, 2016 is alarming but is not necessarily indicative of deeply problematic issues that can’t be remedied. “The Commissioners must come together to reassure the public that they remain committed to prioritizing the release of a solid timeline and fixing these operational issues once and for all,” commented Joe. As she has stated, a timeline must be released so that families of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) can start planning to tell their loved ones’ stories.
NWAC, who remains deeply invested in the success of the National Inquiry, has listed many of its concerns in its first two quarterly Report Cards, including a lack of transparency and communication from the Inquiry. In an update for families entitled “What’s next for the National Inquiry?”, dated June 19th, 2017, Chief Commissioner Marion Buller confirmed that the Commissioners would be asking for an extension.
Joe hopes to see a positive outcome despite many unsettling developments. “The Executive Director is the hub of operational functions. All of our concerns about adhering to the timeline before and after Community Hearings of the Truth Gathering Process were postponed for the summer are exasperated by the announcement of Moreau’s resignation. It is crucial that the National Inquiry regain operational stability as soon as possible in order to gain confidence from everyone who is invested in its success.”
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