Missing and murdered indigenous women inquiry details coming Tuesday
First of two phases of a national inquiry will be announced on Tuesday
The federal government will announce on Tuesday some of the details of a much-anticipated national public inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women.
The announcement comes as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is preparing to address a special assembly of chiefs organized by the Assembly of First Nations in Gatineau Tuesday morning in an effort to re-set the relationship with Canada's indigenous people.
"For indigenous peoples, life in Canada has not been — and is not today — easy, equitable or fair," Trudeau told the Commons on Monday.
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As the 42nd Parliament resumed today, Status of Women Minister Patricia Hajdu said "we are very excited to move forward on this file."
"Murdered and missing indigenous women is a national tragedy that not only affects women but their families and their communities. And so we intend to move incredibly quickly and with a great deal of respect."
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett will make the announcement on Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. in Ottawa following the prime minister's address to the chiefs.
She will be in the foyer of the House of Commons flanked by Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and Hajdu.
The government will provide details about the first phase of the inquiry on Tuesday, which will include consultation with the victims' families, aboriginal organizations, experts and other national stakeholders to lay the groundwork for the launch of an inquiry in 2016.
"We really do see a two-phase approach where we do set some parameters about what this inquiry will look like, and then we move forward into the actual inquiry itself," said Hajdu on Monday.
Trudeau's Liberals promised during the recent election campaign to "immediately" launch an inquiry, at a cost of $40 million over two years.
Bennett will seek the input of regional chiefs and their respective delegations when she meets with them Monday afternoon ahead of the special assembly of chiefs.
The Trudeau government's promise to reset the relationship with Canada's indigenous people featured prominently in Friday's speech from the throne.
The government's ambitious agenda also includes improving education for First Nations and implementing all of the 94 recommendations stemming from a report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
As Parliament resumed on Monday, Bennett reiterated her government's commitment to seeing all of the recommendations through amid growing skepticism and questions about how much such a promise would cost taxpayers.
"It was inappropriate for us to cherry pick out of the 94 recommendations and with political will, leadership and partnership, nation to nation we're going to get this done," said Bennett during question period on Monday.
She gave a nod to the provinces and territories for beginning to implement some of the key recommendations included in the report, but made no mention of costs.
The government said it will also introduce legislation to provide more support for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose said she supports the inquiry — a departure from her predecessor, who repeatedly rebuffed growing calls for a national inquiry, saying the government action on crime precluded the need for further studies.
"It's something that I think we should do," Ambrose said. "I believe very strongly that anything that we can do as a Parliament to support what is a very tragic situation among aboriginal women in this country."
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, who wanted to launch an inquiry within 100 days if his party formed government, said he is awaiting details on specifics.
"Getting it done right, taking time to define the mandate, nobody is going to quibble with that," Mulcair said.
"Are they announcing a full national inquiry into murdered and missing indigenous women? If the answer is yes, they will have our full support."
with files from The Canadian Press