Nova Scotia

Concerns raised about liaison hiring for missing and murdered inquiry

The national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls says an Atlantic Canadian liaison should soon be in place, after concerns were raised that no one had yet been hired.

Cheryl Maloney says liaison should be on the ground 2 months before 'inquiry rolls into town'

Cheryl Maloney says she wants to see the Atlantic Canadian representative working on the ground for at least two months before the hearings begin. (Robert Short/CBC)

The national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls says an Atlantic Canadian liaison should soon be in place, after concerns were raised that no one had yet been hired.

One of those who has raised concerns is Cheryl Maloney, the president of the Eastern Door Indigenous Women's Association. She told CBC's Information Morning on Wednesday that a liaison in Yukon was hired just three weeks before the family hearings were set to start there.

"That is a problem," she said, adding that she doesn't want to see that happen here. "You can't rush" something like this, she said. "It has to be done properly."

Director of communications for the inquiry, Bernée Bolton, has since confirmed that the team has an Atlantic Canadian candidate in place, they are just waiting for the person's security clearance to come through before they are officially hired. That should take a few weeks, she said.

From left, Commissioners Marion Buller, Qajaq Robinson, Marilyn Poitras, Michele Audette and Brian Eyolfson listen during the launch of the inquiry. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Timeline

Maloney said she wants to see the Atlantic Canadian representative working on the ground for at least two months "before the inquiry rolls into town." 

There is no published schedule for those hearings — aside from the first one in Whitehorse at the end of May — but Bolton confirmed that commissioners won't hear from families in other parts of the country until the fall.

Loretta Saunders was studying the issue of murdered or missing Indigenous women when she was killed in 2014. (Gofundme)

Commissioners asking the 'wrong people'

Maloney, who has been advocating on behalf of missing and murdered Indigenous women for years, both nationally and internationally, said the inquiry has done a poor job keeping the community informed.

"Nobody knows what's going on," she said.

As president of the Nova Scotia Native Women's Association, Maloney said she was surprised that nobody from the inquiry had been in touch with her organization in any official way. "They're going to the wrong people," she said.

Maloney said she wants to see a series of roundtable discussions take place across the country with grassroots organizers, as opposed to "experts" chosen by the commissioners.

"My expertise comes from putting up posters for Loretta Saunders," Maloney said, remembering the 26-year-old Inuk woman from Labrador who was murdered in a Halifax apartment in 2014.

She said staff with the inquiry need to reach out to the people on the ground "and hear what they have to say."

With files from the CBC's Information Morning

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