The announcement that the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIW) will soon stop in Smithers is good news for families along the Highway of Tears who have lost loved ones to violence, MP Nathan Cullen said today.
“It is absolutely essential for inquiry commissioners to travel to Northwest BC to hear directly from families along the Highway of Tears,” Cullen said in a press release. “Reading statements and stories online or by letter does not have the same impact nor impart the very real dangers that First Nations women and girls face when travelling between remote, rural Highway 16 communities.”
The MMIW inquiry is scheduled to hold hearings in Smithers the week of September 25 as part of the inquiry’s Truth Gathering Process.
Commissioners will hold nine community hearings across Canada this fall, its second round of hearings, starting September 10 in Thunder Bay, Ontario and ending early December in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. Commissioners will also travel to Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Halifax, Edmonton, Yellowknife, and Maliotenam, Quebec.
Inquiry staff will be in Smithers the week of July 17 to prepare for September’s hearing here.
Inquiry teams of health, legal, communications and logistics staffers visit each community several weeks ahead of hearings. Teams meet with families, survivors and community groups to discuss local issues regarding violence against Indigenous women and girls.
Cullen says he hopes last Thursday’s announcement of the second round of community visits and hearings by commissioners opens the door to a more productive and collaborative process.
“There have been many challenges to getting the work of the inquiry off the ground, directly including families in the work, and developing a sufficiently broad mandate to allow real understanding of the deeper issues of violence against Indigenous women and girls,” he said.
“The inquiry’s recognition of the need to hold hearings in Smithers is very positive.”