Federal ministers in Halifax to discuss missing and murdered indigenous women
Meetings are first step to set up an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women
Two federal cabinet ministers met with 100 people in Halifax on Wednesday to discuss how to best craft an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women.
Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Carolyn Bennett and Minister of Status of Women Patty Hajdu were in Halifax to meet with family members and loved ones of missing and murdered women.
"Some of the people in the room were related to the perpetrator and the victim," said Bennett.
"So the incidents of child abuse and people understanding how a member of their family became a perpetrator — I think that has been the most moving for a lot of us," said Bennett.
The ministers are making their way across the country holding consultations with the public. Those meetings are aimed at helping to shape the inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women.
"Some people [we spoke to] would say we had really good police officers," said Bennett, "Then others would say that the police responded that it was 'only an Indian' that was missing."
Violence against women too common
Hajdu said as she travels throughout Canada she's become more aware of the violence that indigenous women are living with.
"One thing that stands out for me is that there are many women, indigenous women, who have had very close calls, with losing their lives or being abused or surviving domestic assault," said Hajdu.
She says the national inquiry needs to find a way to include women that are still alive.
Hajdu said people across the country are providing useful insight into what an inquiry should look like, who should conduct the inquiry and what questions should be asked.
"Most of the advice we've had is that needs to be indigenous lead. I haven't heard anybody who thinks it needs to be a sterile courtroom somewhere," said Bennett.
The hope is commissioners for the inquiry will be identified by June.
Unlike the consultations, the inquiry itself will operate independently of the federal government.