Memorial March Committee cites concerns ahead of MMWI meetings in Vancouver

Vancouver's Women's Memorial March Committee is announcing recommendations for a national inquiry into missing and murdered women this morning, one day before attending a pre-inquiry meeting organized by federal ministers.

Inquiry needs to focus on daily discrimination faced by indigenous women, says organizer

Carolyn Bennett will hold pre-inquiry engagements into missing and murdered aboriginal women in Vancouver on Wednesday. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Vancouver's Women's Memorial March Committee says it's concerned preliminary meetings for a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women aren't focusing on the right issues. 

The federal government has begun to move forward with a national inquiry on the issue — one of the Liberals' key election promises. 

Planning sessions will be held in Vancouver on Wednesday, and were most recently organized in Whitehorse, where Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett and two other federal ministers heard from the family of missing and murdered women about how the inquiry should be structured.

"We're concerned about the focus on the need for healing of the families," said Fay Blaney, a member of the Women's Memorial March Committee.  

"A significant portion of the women that have disappeared or have been murdered are not attached to family."

Blaney works with urban indigenous women as part of the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre, as well as the Memorial March Committee. 

She said she wants the government to examine the discrimination still faced every day by women on the Downtown Eastside. 

"There's a lot of attention being paid to this issue of the murdered and missing, and we were doing it a time when no one was listening," said Blaney.  

"Now suddenly there's seems to be jostling for attention, and we just wanted to assert our authority and that we have a deep and long-standing understanding of this issue."

The Women's Memorial March Committee has raised the issue of violence against women for 26 years, "throughout the Dark Ages," said Blaney, "during the time when no one else was listening."

Blaney said the committee, as part of a larger coalition formed in response to B.C.'s own inquiry led by Wally Oppal, will be attending a meeting with Bennett on Tuesday afternoon. 

The committee will be holding a press conference detailing its concerns later on Tuesday morning.