Indigenous Affairs Minister begins 'pre-inquiry engagements' with families of MMIW
Bennett says families have the 'instincts and much knowledge' needed 'to get this right'
Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett has started inquiry consultations with families of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.
"The more I listen to families, the more I understand they have many instincts and much knowledge about the way we go forward in order to get this right," Bennett said from a First Nations education conference in Thunder Bay yesterday.
Many families are determined to be at the forefront of an inquiry and have been vocal on social media through campaigns like #ourinquiry, directed at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
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That family driven initiative caught Bennett's attention. So far she's begun "pre-inquiry engagements" with families, provincial and territorial governments, aboriginal organizations, and civil society groups.
"[These are] people who are actually dealing with this [issue] every day," said Bennett.
She said she intends to "make sure that they feel they've had the input on things like the scope, the terms of reference, the length, who should be commissioners and whether there should be one or three."
Cultural components within the actual inquiry are also being considered, said Bennett.
"The importance of ceremony and how we can build a commission that may look [different] than anything that anybody has ever seen before, but will also have the creativity and the responsiveness to the needs that starts with the families."
The Liberals have committed to spending $40 million over two years on the examination of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. So far no one, including Bennett, has mentioned what the scope of the inquiry will be.
However, when asked about the possibility of including missing and murdered indigenous men and boys, Bennett didn't rule it out.
"When you look at the systemic problems and the effects of colonization, the effects of residential school, there is no question that men and boys have also been victims of this system," she said.
"I think that it would be impossible to separate out the needs of the men and boys as well, as we begin to address the systemic problems."
In an interview with CBC's Chris Hall last week, Bennett said she will be working closely with the Minister of State for the Status of Women Patty Hajdu,as well as Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould.
"What's exciting for me is to have a partner in the minister of justice who is very knowledgeable about these things and we get to do these things together."
with files from Jody Porter and CBC's The House