British Columbia

'It's too late in the game': Indigenous leader says MMIW inquiry must continue despite criticism

The Chief of Cheam First Nation says the first report from the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls will be worth the administrative problems that currently plague it.

Chief Ernie Crey says the commission's first report will be worth current administrative problems

Chief Ernie Crey supports the inquiry and says it's time to stop asking for a replacement of the commission running it. (CBC)

A First Nation leader says the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls should continue despite the communication problems that are hampering it.

Chief Ernie Crey of the Cheam First Nation said the families that have waited years for an inquiry to happen deserve to have it continue. His sister Dawn Crey is one of the women whose DNA was found on Robert Pickton's farm

"To basically dump it and start all over again ... I don't see that as on, we're too late in the process," said Crey during CBC's On the Coast. "It's now time to replace people who have resigned and get on with the main work of the inquiry."

The inquiry has faced criticism as five staff members of the commission have resigned since June. 

Listen to the interview with Ernie Crey:

Marilyn Poitras was the most recent commissioner to resign, saying her vision for the inquiry was not shared by many involved in the process. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has shown no sign he intends to intervene in the independent inquiry.

Rather than replacing the entire commission as some are suggesting, Crey would prefer the inquiry focus on meeting the November deadline for its interim report.

"These are administrative matters than can be tidied up rather quickly and the commission can get on with it's fundamental task," said Crey. "The commission itself has admitted that it's had communications issues but they've promised to remedy them."

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett says the inquiry will forge ahead as planned.

Francyne Joe with the Native Women's Association of Canada however says the inquiry's lack of transparency is indicative of its need for an overhaul.

She says commission staff are difficult to contact and there are too many barriers for families in applying to have their stories heard.

"Families are asking 'What sort of expenses are going to be covered?', 'What sort of resources are going to be covered?' and they're not getting answers due to poor communication," said Joe.

Crey however feels a final cogent and timely report from the commission will provide practical recommendations that will help reduce the violent deaths and disappearances of women and girls in Canada.

With files from On the Coast