The MMIW in­quiry needs a clear and uni­fied vi­sion

Kenora Daily Miner and News - - COMMENT - — Farzana Has­san

The na­tional in­quiry into miss­ing and mur­dered in­dige­nous women and girls is rocked by another high-level res­ig­na­tion. It again proves the in­ep­ti­tude of the Trudeau Lib­er­als.

Com­mis­sioner Marylin Poitras re­signed Tues­day morning, claim­ing she could not per­form the task as­signed to her un­der the current cir­cum­stances, specif­i­cally the way the in­quiry had been set up.

The Lib­er­als took some time for­mu­lat­ing pro­ce­dures for the in­quiry be­fore hand­ing it over to the five com­mis­sion­ers.

Chief com­mis­sioner Mar­ion Buller al­luded to com­mu­ni­ca­tion prob­lems among the dif­fer­ent heads while in­sist­ing that such dis­agree­ments are to be ex­pected.

Some sug­gest a lack of trust or of proper pro­to­cols in the way the in­quiry has been con­ducted so far, and oth­ers say funds have been in­ad­e­quate.

That said, the gov­ern­ment has al­ready al­lo­cated over $54 mil­lion for the in­quiry. How­ever, some sug­gest it will take much more than that amount to do jus­tice to the task of finding the causes for such a high in­ci­dence of mur­dered in­dige­nous women and girls, in­clud­ing two-spirit and LGBTQ2 in­di­vid­u­als.

All these as­pects may con­trib­ute to the prob­lems the in­quiry is fac­ing, but the com­ments of Poitras point to a much more fun­da­men­tal dif­fer­ence: an ide­o­log­i­cal di­vide.

Her two-page res­ig­na­tion let­ter men­tions the fact that in­dige­nous peo­ple have suf­fered a lot and that they are a re­silient na­tion. It adds that there has been lit­tle em­pa­thy for them.

In ref­er­enc­ing this, she would have liked to see greater em­pha- sis on de­vel­op­ing sys­tems and pro­to­cols that re­flect the char­ac­ter and cul­ture of in­dige­nous peo­ples. In­stead she al­ludes to a “colo­nial path”, per­haps de­vel­oped by the Trudeau Lib­er­als, who claim to be on the side of in­dige­nous peo­ples.

She said, “I be­lieve part of the so­lu­tion is to draw on our strengths and re­siliency as in­dige­nous peo­ple, be­cause if all we ever talk about is ‘the In­dian prob­lem’ then we’ll only ever be ‘the In­dian prob­lem’.”


She went on to state that “Be­cause of this, I strongly feel the terms of ref­er­ence that we were set out to achieve have not been met. This is why it is with great re­gret … that I re­sign my po­si­tion as com­mis­sioner.”

Dis­agree­ments are fine, as Com­mis­sioner Buller in­di­cates. They’re even wel­come, as long as all par­tic­i­pants pur­sue the com­mon goal of as­cer­tain­ing the real rea­sons for such a dis­turb­ing num­ber of miss­ing and mur­dered in­dige­nous women.

How­ever, if the com­mis­sion­ers do not agree on ba­sic ob­jec­tives, or have pro­found dif­fer­ences at the out­set in the way they re­gard in­dige­nous peo­ples, then any clashes among the in­quiry par­tic­i­pants can­not help but di­lute the chances of real achieve­ment. This ap­pears to be the case with the com­mis­sion.

Far too much ill-tar­geted money has al­ready been spent on im­prov­ing the lot of in­dige­nous peo­ples and finding ways to un­der­stand their con­tin­ued marginal­iza­tion. Such money is an in­vest­ment only if those who con­trol the purse strings have a clear, log­i­cal and uni­fied vi­sion.

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