'We are forgotten': Group decries lack of Inuit among MMIW commissioners

The national Inuit women’s organization, Pauktuutit, is disappointed with the proposed list of commissioners for the 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,’ says president of Inuit women’s organization

The president of an Inuit women's group says the federal government isn't following through with its promise not to treat the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women as pan-Aboriginal. 'A lot of times we're lumped in with the First Nations,' said Rebecca Kudloo. (CBC)

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.

"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.

'Once again we are not at the forefront of a process that is going on in this country,' says Rebecca Kudloo, president of Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada. (Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada)
Kudloo said considering the high rate of family violence in Inuit communities, she is surprised by the lack of Inuit representation.

"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.

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. 

About the Author

Sima Sahar Zerehi

Sima Sahar Zerehi is a reporter with CBC North. She started her career in journalism with the ethnic press working for a Canadian-based Farsi language newspaper. Her CBC journey began as a regular commentator with CBC radio's Metro Morning. Since then she's worked with CBC in Montreal, Toronto and now Iqaluit.