Inuit groups gather suggestions for missing and murdered indigenous women inquiry process
Some families don't want to travel; others want to ensure access to culturally-relevant counselling
Inuit organizations and families of missing and murdered Inuit women and girls met in Ottawa this week to draft recommendations on an Inuit-specific approach to the inquiry.
"We want this inquiry to go as best as possible for the Inuit," said Rebecca Kudloo, president of Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, which was hosting the meetings.
"We don't want to be left behind or forgotten. We are saying we are here and this is how we want it done in order for it to be beneficial for Inuit."
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The four-day meeting follows the pre-inquiry consultations held in Iqaluit at the end of January.
The Ottawa meeting included family members from each of the four Inuit regions, as well as representatives from women's shelters in the Inuit regions, Tungasuvvingat Inuit, Makivik Corporation, and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.
Going further than sharing stories
The conversation included gathering insights on what families need to make the inquiry work for them.
"It gave them a chance to go further than testifying to what happened to them. It's also looking forward to start to tell the government and our leaders, this is what should be in place to help the families of murdered and missing.
"Some families didn't want to travel long distances; it adds a lot more stress and it opens wounds they haven't dealt with for a long time."
The group also discussed using the counselling services of local organizations when possible instead of relying on the support services of outsiders unfamiliar with the communities. Some suggestions were also made on the structure of the inquiry in light of the experience that Inuit had with similar proceedings.
"The Truth and Reconciliation Commission did great work but the commissioners were sitting in the front and people walked up to speak to a mic. We don't want that. We wanted more like a circle, where the commissioners would be there at their level. That's the Inuit way," said Kudloo.
Kudloo said the group also talked about best approaches to issues such as policing.
"We're starting to look forward and say these are the services we need and this is how we want to see the correctional services work better so we're not victimized again when we go through court."
The families had many questions, including whether the findings from the inquiry will mean a reopening of some of the cases of the missing and murdered women and girls, said Kudloo.