Feds to consider MMIW extension request

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls will have to wait to see if it’s mandate will be extended.

“The commissioners and I firmly believe that an additional two years is required to do justice to our critically important mandate for the safety and security of Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQ people,” said Chief Commissioner Marion Buller, regarding the request for a two-year extension. “The response from families, survivors and Indigenous communities has been overwhelming, and we have a sacred responsibility to them to continue moving forward.”

The inquiry has heard from 763 witnesses during 134 public hearings and 103 in-camera at 11 community hearings and one expert hearing held across the country. It has also collected an additional 276 statements and received 45 artistic expressions. About 630 more individuals have registered with the inquiry to share their truths and continue to express interest in participating, said Buller.

Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, Carolyn Bennett said she will discussing the request with families, Indigenous partners, provincial and territorial counterparts and cabinet.

“Our government is committed to ending the ongoing national tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls,” she said. “The independent commission’s mandate is clear – families must be at the centre of their work. The families of these women and girls need answers to the systemic and institutional failures that lead to the murder of so many Indigenous women. We are committed to getting them the concrete recommendations they have been waiting for, and putting an end to this ongoing tragedy.”

She said the federal government is taking immediate action, pointing to the Minister of Status of Women’s It’s Time: Canada’s Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence program, which invests in cultural competency training for federal law enforcement officers, and provides program funding for at-risk populations, including Indigenous women and girls and, Bennett added, the Minister of Indigenous Services is overseeing funding for housing, education and the total reform of child and family services with a focus on prevention, ensuring children are raised in their language and culture and reuniting families.  The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada is undertaking a broad review of the criminal justice system, that in part, is looking at ways to address the overrepresentation of Indigenous women and girls as victims of crime, Bennett said.

“Shortly, we will respond to the recommendations of the Interim Report of the Commission and we will outline further actions.”