About half a dozen tents were set up outside the Manitoba Legislative Building by protesters who say the province is keeping a national inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women from getting underway.
Last week, Brian Pallister's Progressive Conservative government said it is moving forward with an order in council in support of the inquiry, but officials are still in negotiations with the federal government over the terms of reference.
"Now that the inquiry has been called, it feels like Manitoba is stalling. We seem to be the ones holding everything up, and that's not OK," Sandy Banman, one of the protesters, said Tuesday.
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The protestors said they are concerned the draft terms of reference for the inquiry reveal that a thorough review of police conduct is not part of the agenda.
"They're trying to say that police and [Child and Family Services] will not be held accountable or will not be part of the inquiry," Banman said. "Those things are off the table. We're here to say we don't want them off the table. That's very, very important."
The inquiry's mandate isn't expected to include the option of recommending that police reopen cold cases, and Banman said that's "very disturbing."
"There's families hurting, like really hurting, in this camp," she said. "We have individuals who are directly affected. All of the family members we've spoken to say that this is outrageous; like, families need closure."
A sacred fire was lit to start the protest on Monday night while about 35 people watched.
Banman said the group is staying there for four days and four nights — a reference to the four quadrants on the medicine wheel and the seasons — and they are considering staying longer.