Survivors hurt as another exits MMIW’s top post
• 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.
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.