The design phase of a federal inquiry into murdered and missing indigenous women is underway. Last week the Minister of Northern and Indigenous Affairs visited Prince George to meet with victims’ families. The conversation circled around how those families want to see the inquiry play out.
Brenda Wilson has been reflective following last weeks meeting with Carolyn Bennett.
Wilson’s sister, Ramona Wilson, went missing near Smithers in 1994. Her body found a year later.
“We really want to be apart apart of it, as family members we want to be apart of this process because for many years we have been left out of all aspects. One of the things that I brought forward was that if it’s going to be a national inquiry and it involves the whole of Canada we need to look at having more than one person in charge of being a commissioner.”
Following the meeting, Wilson is cautiously optimistic. She says there are some areas the government has already fallen short. Families only received a weeks notice to make their way to Prince George from all over the region.
“In the north the travel here is could be very treacherous, and some of our family members could not make the travel because it was short notice.”
Wilson also says the online survey is challenging for many First Nations.
“Although they do have a website where some of the questions can be answered, some of our families are unable to do that also because they don’t have the technology everyone else might have.”
However, Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett says there are other ways to make your voice heard.
“People can either mail in their survey or they can phone it in. Whether their chief and council or local organization, any advice or answers to the questions in any way that they can.”
Over the next six months, Bennett says meeting will take place across the country. Afterwards summaries will go up online.
“Hopefully the summary of what we heard will go up on the website. We hope that they will have a look at that and make sure that we captured appropriately their advice to us as to the design of the inquiry.”
For Wilson and her family, they know it’s a long road ahead.
“We really want this to be done properly, we don’t want this to be a report that’s been left on the shelf, which has been expressed by many of the families.”
Families of murdered and missing women, anxiously awaiting the next phase of the inquiry.