Sur­vivors hurt as an­other ex­its MMIW’s top post

National Post (Latest Edition) - - CANADA - Kristy Kirkup

• Maggy Gisle fought for two decades for an i nquiry i nto miss­ing and mur­dered In­dige­nous women and girls, but she says the cur­rent com­mis­sion isn’t giv­ing her much to cling to.

Gisle, an abuse vic­tim, for­mer ad­dict and sex worker who spent 16 years on Van­cou­ver’s Down­town East­side, said Fri­day she was shocked to find out through the me­dia that the in­quiry had lost a sec­ond ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor, adding its com­mu­ni­ca­tion “re­ally sucks.”

She said she’s been vol­un­teer­ing her time to try to con­nect In­dige­nous women who re­main on the streets with the com­mis­sion so their voices are not for­got­ten.

But she said the in­quiry “keeps drop­ping the ball.”

“It doesn’t give me faith in the process,” Gisle said in an in­ter­view, try­ing to hold back tears.

“What I’ ve f ought f or since I was on the streets, since 1998, is that we be heard … They need to hear the his­tory and the past but they also need to hear the present. They need to hear of the peo­ple who are still … at the Down­town East­side.”

The fed­er­ally funded in­quiry con­firmed late Thurs­day its ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor, Deb­bie Reid, left her job, but de­clined to com­ment fur­ther on a per­son­nel mat­ter.

Direc­tor of op­er­a­tions Calvin Wong will step in as in­terim ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor ef­fec­tively im­me­di­ately, the com­mis­sion added.

“We thank Deb­bie for her con­tri­bu­tions,” it said in a state­ment. “We are en­sur­ing that the na­tional in­quiry’s work is not dis­rupted dur­ing this time of tran­si­tion.”

For her part, Crown- In­dige­nous Af­fairs Min­is­ter Carolyn Ben­nett is not con­vinced.

“I am con­cerned about the amount of turnover at the com­mis­sion and that it will dis­tract from the work at hand,” Ben­nett said in a state­ment. “They have a very im­por­tant job to do and that is to get an­swers for fam­i­lies.” She won’t step in, how­ever. Op­po­si­tion par­ties say it’s time for the fed­eral govern­ment to en­sure the com­mis­sion is on the right track, es­pe­cially as the in­quiry looks to make a for­mal ap­pli­ca­tion for more money and time.

The Lib­eral govern­ment ear­marked $53.8 mil­lion and two years for the in­quiry’s work.

DAR­RYL DYCK / THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Maggy Gisle, an abuse vic­tim, for­mer ad­dict and sex worker, said Fri­day she was shocked to find out through the me­dia that the in­quiry into miss­ing and mur­dered In­dige­nous women and girls lost an­other ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor.

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