Saskatoon

Indigenous women's group calls for resignation of all MMIWG commissioners

A leading advocate for families of missing and murdered Indigenous women says victim's families want the remaining commissioners for National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls to resign.

After meeting with commissioners, families felt 'disrespected'

Beverly Jacobs, the past president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, says 'many of the families felt like they have lost trust.' (Beverly Jacobs/Twitter)

A leading advocate for families of missing and murdered Indigenous women says victims' families want the remaining commissioners for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls to resign.   

Beverly Jacobs, the past president of the Native Women's Association of Canada and a lawyer in Six Nations of the Grand River near Brantford, Ont., says a lack of trust means the inquiry needs a complete restart. 

"Many of the families felt like they have lost trust," Jacobs told CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning

Families met with commission, minister 

Jacobs said families met with commissioners Tuesday night, after the sudden resignation of Marilyn Poitras from the commission. 

She said after that meeting, many family members felt "disrespected." She said families want a "trauma-informed process" that takes into account the needs and protocols of Indigenous people. 

The meeting was to discuss a letter sent last May to the commission that outlined some "concrete recommendations so that families feel safe, so that there was a trauma informed process," Jacobs said. 

Then they met with Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett to voice those concerns. 

Jacobs, who is no longer with the Native Women's Association of Canada's executive council, said some families are asking for the remaining four commissioners to step aside. 

The NWAC is calling for a restructuring, which does not necessarily include the commissioners stepping down. The organization is placing the onus on the commissioners to adhere to the families first model, according to the director of communications. 

She said there are a host of issues with the current structure of the inquiry. 

The fact families don't have legal representation or standing at the inquiry is one of them.

Also, she said, there is lack of understanding about specific community protocols. 

"We are dealing with sprits of Indigenous women, their ancestors who are no longer here. And there are very specific cultural protocols according to each nation's Indigenous laws when dealing with deaths and ancestors," she said.

Marilyn Poitras announced her resignation from the commission Tuesday. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

Calls come after high-profile resignation 

Marilyn Poitras, a University of Saskatchewan law professor, announced her resignation from the commission Tuesday. 

In the statement to CBC News, she said she felt too many people involved in the inquiry did not share her vision to "to put Indigenous process first." 

"After serving on this commission for the past 10 months, I realized the vision I hold is shared by very few within the national inquiry" and "the status quo colonial model of hearings is the path for most," the statement said. 

With files from CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning

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