The sudden departure yesterday of the executive director of the national inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) must serve as an urgent call to the Liberal government to take direct, immediate steps to get the work of the inquiry back on track, Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen said Friday.
“The swinging door of departures at the inquiry’s most senior levels can no longer be ignored by the minister and Prime Minister,” Cullen said. “It’s simply unfathomable to ask Canadians to believe the Inquiry’s work is not being severely disrupted by the constant transition at the top of the troubled inquiry.”
The departure of executive director Debbie Reid yesterday has not been explained by the organization, said Cullen.
A press release from the inquiry said it “cannot discuss the details of the matter,” and announced that director of operations Calvin Wong will act as interim executive director, effective immediately
Reid had only been in the job since October. She sparked controversy in her first week for an introductory email to staff, in which she said her job was to “protect” the commissioners, Cullen said, something she said should also be a priority for all staff.
“We are ensuring that the national inquiry’s work is not disrupted during this time of transition,” according to the press release posted on the inquiry’s website. “We will continue to build on the significant progress achieved last year in the Truth Gathering process that has shed light on this national tragedy through community hearings; expert panel hearings; institutional hearings; commemoration; and, research. We have a sacred responsibility to the 597 families and survivors who have entrusted the national inquiry with their truths and the 600 more who are registered to do so. Commissioners and staff are united by a deep commitment, and we are working diligently to prepare for our next two community hearings in Yellowknife on January 23-25, 2017, and Rankin Inlet on February 20-22, 2017.”
The independent Inquiry has lost two dozen people since its September 2016 launch, including Commissioner Marilyn Poitras and executive director Michèle Moreau, who both resigned.
“This Inquiry has been years in the making,” said Cullen. “It has a critical mandate. Victim families and Canadians deserve a focused and aggressive effort to fully examine the systemic causes of the violence that Indigenous women and girls experience.”