British Columbia

Jody Wilson-Raybould appointment prompts optimism for national inquiry

The appointment of Jody Wilson-Raybould is being taken as a positive sign for a national inquiry into missing and murdered women.

New Justice Minister seen as a positive sign for missing and murdered women inquiry

Lorelei Williams is hopeful that Trudeau's new cabinet signals that a national inquiry into missing and murdered women will start soon. (CBC)

People across Canada are hailing the appointment of Jody Wilson-Raybould as the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, hoping it's a positive sign for a promised national inquiry into missing and murdered women. 

"When I saw that [she was appointed], I was just overwhelmed," said Lorelei Williams. "This is a First Nations woman, she's in there!"

The Liberal government promised to conduct a national inquiry "immediately" after coming into power. 

Williams said she has high hopes for Wilson-Raybould, especially because the missing and murdered women inquiry is a subject that touches her personally. 

Newly sworn in Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould congratulated by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a ceremony at Rideau Hall, in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Her aunt Belinda Williams has been missing since 1997, and her cousin Tanya Holyk went missing in 1996; her DNA was later found on the farm of Robert Pickton, the notorious serial murderer. 

For Williams, the Canada-wide inquiry can't begin soon enough.

"Right now, the question is when is this going to happen, and how is this going to happen? It needs to be led by our indigenous women," she said. 

People across the country shared her opinion.  

Problems 'no great mystery'

The man who led B.C.'s provincial inquiry into missing and murdered women, Wally Oppal, is lukewarm on the need for a national inquiry.

He said the research and 93 days of public hearings, which eventually produced a 1,400-page report in 2012 with dozens of recommendations, should be enough to move forward. 

Wally Oppal says he hopes a national inquiry into missing and murdered women won't cover the same ground he did in 2012. (CBC)

"It's no great mystery as to what's happening. It's poverty, it's drug addiction, it's homelessness, it's the lack of education," said Oppal on Wednesday.

"Those are the root causes of the violence that takes place and why so many aboriginal women are victims of violence."

Oppal said if the Liberals do move forward with a national inquiry, he hopes it doesn't cover the same ground. 

However, he also said inquiries serve a purpose other than providing recommendations.

"Inquiries are good because they indicate to those who suffer the most that they're not discarded," he said. 

That outcome, he said, was an important one the provincial inquiry was able to achieve. 

With files from Dan Burritt

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