VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The $53.8 million national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls has been officially underway for over two months, and some First Nations groups have been critical of the apparent lack of progress.
Chief Commissioner Marion Buller says lots of work has been happening behind the scenes, and that she and the other commissioners are working hard to hire staff and open the inquiry headquarters in Vancouver next week.
Buller adds that the way the inquiry was announced might have led people to mistakenly believe the hearings would start immediately.
Cheam First Nation Chief Ernie Crey says he’s been in regular contact with the commission all year, but he’s still not sure when family members, loved ones, and survivors will start testifying.
“I realize people are anxious for the actual hearings to get underway,” he says, “I’m satisfied that it will start in the near future, and I’m looking forward to it.”
His sister Dawn was one of Robert Pickton’s victims, but Crey is planning to testify about the issue more broadly. He’s also soliciting members of 24 neighbouring communities to prepare their own testimonies.
“What I’ve been advising First Nations communities and aboriginal groups is: ready yourself, prepare yourself, get your presentations ready,” he explains. “They’ll give oral testimony and written submissions, so that takes preparation, that takes time.”
Crey is also pushing to have missing and murdered indigenous men and boys included in this inquiry. He says federal indigenous affairs minister Carolyn Bennett hasn’t ruled the idea, but community support has been sparse.
He will be speaking at a public forum on missing and murdered indigenous men and boys at Vancouver’s Harbour Centre at 6:30 tonight.