'We are forgotten': Group decries lack of Inuit among MMIW commissioners
‘Once again a non-Inuk will be speaking for us,’ says president of Inuit women’s organization
The national Inuit women's organization is disappointed with the proposed list of commissioners for the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls because it does not include an Inuk.
"Once again a non-Inuk will be speaking for us," said Rebecca Kudloo, president of Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada.
The names of the commissioners have not officially been released, but the Globe and Mail has revealed that five people are on the draft list. The list includes Qajaq Robinson, a civil litigation lawyer who was raised in Igloolik, Nunavut, and speaks Inuktitut, but she is not an Inuk.
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"We're getting different messages every day, I was told these names are set in stone," Kudloo said.
Earlier this year Inuit groups conducted a consultation with the families of missing and murdered Inuit women.
"They clearly stated that they want an Inuk commissioner," said Kudloo.
Those findings were shared with the minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, in addition to a list of recommendations.
"We thought that recommendations would be honoured," she said.
Kudloo said the proposed process for the inquiry also falls short when it comes to meaningful Inuit participation, contrary to promises made by the federal government.
"We were told there would be Inuit working — like elders groups and Pauktuutit — helping this inquiry," she said. "Once again we are not at the forefront of a process that is going on in this country."
Add a 6th Inuk commissioner?
Kudloo said Pauktuutit has sent a letter to the federal government asking them to add a sixth Inuk commissioner to the list. They have yet to make any headway on that.
"As one of the first peoples of this country we are forgotten a lot," said Kudloo.
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The list of commissioners for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission also did not include an Inuk, said Kudloo, adding that many of the 94 recommendations were only for First Nations communities and not Inuit.
"A lot of times we're lumped in with the First Nations," said Kudloo, "We're a distinct Inuit people, and we have distinct ways and culture."
Kudloo said Pauktuutit was hoping to see a change with the new Liberal government, especially since it promised to renew its relationship with Indigenous people.
During the pre-inquiry consultations in Iqaluit, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett also promised the inquiry into the missing and murdered would not have a pan-Aboriginal approach.