Sec­ond chance at jus­tice

In­side the Miss­ing and Mur­dered In­dige­nous Women in­quiry

Metro Canada (Toronto) - - FRONT PAGE -

Fam­i­lies who be­lieve in­ves­ti­ga­tors gave short shrift to their lost loved ones cases hope to have a sec­ond chance at jus­tice as the next phase in the na­tional in­quiry mur­dered and miss­ing in­dige­nous women and girls be­gins.

Canada’s first in­dige­nous at­tor­ney gen­eral, Jody Wil­sonRay­bould, said the five-per­son com­mis­sion can rec­om­mend to law en­force­ment that a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion be launched.

There is flex­i­bil­ity, un­der the in­quiry’s man­date, for the com­mis­sion­ers, led by B.C. in­dige­nous judge Mar­ion Buller, to fig­ure out how jus­tice can be achieved for the fam­i­lies, said Wil­son-Ray­bould, a for­mer B.C. re­gional chief of the Assem­bly of First Na­tions and a mem­ber of the We Wai Kai Na­tion.

“But it also speaks to their abil­ity in hear­ing the lived ex­pe­ri­ences of the fam­i­lies and the sur­vivors, the abil­ity to re­fer spe­cific cases to the ap­pro­pri­ate au­thor­i­ties, be it the po­lice or the at­tor­neys gen­eral of the prov­inces or ter­ri­to­ries, re­fer­ring the case in terms where there may be the need for more in­ves­ti­ga­tions or more find­ings,” said Wil­son-Ray­bould.

Wit­nesses can be com­pelled to tes­tify be­fore the in­quiry and to sum­mon all doc­u­ments needed, In­dige­nous Af­fairs Min­is­ter Carolyn Ben­nett said. How­ever, the in­quiry does not have power to con­duct its own crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Cases must be re­ferred to the po­lice for that to hap­pen, she said.

“The fam­i­lies who feel the death of their loved ones were called a sui­cide or an ac­ci­dent or an over­dose as op­posed to a murder, those pat­terns are the

Denise Maloney-Pic­tou, whose mother An­nie Mae Pic­tou was found dead in 1976

kinds of things the com­mis­sion­ers will have to look into,” Ben­nett told a press con­fer­ence at the Cana­dian Mu­seum of His­tory on Wed­nes­day.

But crim­i­nal ex­am­i­na­tions can’t take place in the in­quiry it­self be­cause it “is not a crim­i­nal court,” said Ben­nett.

Some fam­i­lies are up­set, how­ever, that the in­quiry was not given the teeth needed to re­open cases.

“This is the prob­lem. Fam­i­lies wanted in­quiry to re­open,” in­dige­nous ac­tivist and lawyer Pam Pal­mater told the Star via Twit­ter, re­fer­ring to send­ing cases back to provin­cial or ter­ri­to­rial au­thor­i­ties.

This is a his­toric day.

Justin tAnG/the cAnA­DiAn Press

Brid­get Tol­ley, whose mother Gla­dys was killed in 2001,

is em­braced af­ter the an­nounce­ment of the in­quiry into mur­dered and miss­ing in­dige­nous women in Gatineau, Que., on Wed­nes­day.

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