A red dress hangs in a doorway in Membertou, N.S. in this file photo. The dresses have been used across Canada to draw awareness to the issue of violence against Indigenous women and girls – Erin Pottie/SaltWire Network File OTTAWA, Ont. —
It’s been a long time coming — with demands for millions more in cash along the way, the resignations of key players over dysfunction and numerous requests for deadline extensions — but finally there is a date on the calendar for the release of all its findings and its judgments.
There’s great hope, therefore, that the issue-plagued National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls lives up to its expectations and lengthy name because it was not exactly the kind of inquiry that had people lining up to play a role.
The inquiry’s title, alone, would be a barrier.
Looking ahead, there should be a lot of grief and sadness within the report’s pages — now promised to be released on June 3 — as well as anger, frustration and bitterness. But at least there is now a firm date.
Although there is no exact venue yet, it will be a public event held across the Ottawa River from Parliament Hill in the Quebec town of Gatineau, the provinces and territories represented, plus the feds, with First Nations, Metis and Inuit performing traditional ceremonials, all of it live-streamed and simultaneously translated into a number of indigenous languages as well as the official English and French languages mandated by Pierre E. Trudeau.
So, it’s going to be no small matter for the master of ceremony.
The final report, said the committee, will comprise “the sacred truths of 1,484 family members and survivors and 83 knowledge-keepers, experts and officials who provided testimony at 24 hearings and statement-gathering events held from coast-to-coast-to-coast in 2017 and 2018, as well as 819 people who shared their truths through artistic expressions.”
The cost of the inquiry, which was originally set at $53 million, will now come closer to $100 million after the feds recently allotted it an additional $38 million and gave the probe yet another deadline extension.
When the National Post questioned the blossoming costs, an inquiry spokesman emailed that “the (systemic) causes of violence against indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people are rooted in 500 years of colonization. Time and investment are required for thoughtful and thorough examination into the underlying reasons for this national tragedy.”
This is the kind of high-minded and condescending bureaucratic lecturing that rightly makes many people gag — despite the thousands of unanswered and unsolved deaths that were the reason the inquiry was launched.
That, plus the promise of Justin Trudeau who vowed reconciliation with First Nations, yet, once elected prime minister, seemingly forgot most of it and delivered tokenism instead — like the grandstanding wiping of Hector-Louis Langevin’s name off the Ottawa building that houses the PMO because of his role setting up the residential school debacle.
And then there was the recent denigration of a young indigenous woman who protested at a $1,500-a-plate Liberal fundraiser where Trudeau’s audience of big-wigs made it worse by clapping its approval.
What still looms large, however, is the Highway of Tears, the 720-km British Columbia corridor between Prince George and Prince Rupert along which almost 30 indigenous women went missing or were murdered.
It’s power, however, is in its symbolism, in that it represents the larger national crisis where, depending upon who is giving the answer, anywhere between 1,200 and 4,000 indigenous women and girls across Canada either mysteriously vanished or were killed.
The inquiry appears set out to give answers. Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019
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