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Final report of MMIWG inquiry is an important step in a healing journey

A closer look at the day's most notable stories with The National's Jonathon Gatehouse: As the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women ends, the next chapter begins, Trump's state visit to the U.K. gets off to a controversial start, the first Brexit Party MP could be elected in a byelection, remembering D-Day 75 years later.
A woman holds a sign during the closing ceremony of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Gatineau, Que. on Monday. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

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  • As the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls comes to a close, the way in which its findings and recommendations will be used in Canada marks the beginning of a new chapter.
  • Donald Trump's state visit to the U.K. was mired in controversy before Marine One even touched down on the tarmac. 
  • Returning to Peterborough, England where a Parliamentary byelection could elect the first Brexit Party MP.
  • Reliving the horror of D-Day 75 years later with a Canadian veteran who landed on Juno Beach. 
  • Missed The National last night? Watch it here.

The MMIWG inquiry's next chapter

The MMIWG inquiry submitted its final report to the government today, but it's far from the final chapter, writes CBC Indigenous Reporter Chantelle Bellrichard.

People from across the country gathered in Gatineau, Que., this morning to watch the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls hand over its final report to the federal government.

For Cheryl McDonald, being at the closing ceremony is an important step in her healing journey over the loss of her sister Carleen Marie McDonald. Carleen's remains were found in a wooded area of Akwesasne in October 1988, seven weeks after she went missing.

The loss may have happened more than 30 years ago, but the pain of losing her sister remains palpable.

Cheryl McDonald was in Ottawa to witness the closing ceremony of the inquiry. (Jessica Deer/CBC)

"Canadians and Indigenous people, leaders, professionals, regular citizens who are trying to understand what is all this pain about, what is all this anger about — it's about this deep injustice that is passed through each one of us," she said.

The National Inquiry officially began in September 2016. The federal government tasked the inquiry with identifying the root causes of all forms of violence against Indigenous women and girls and to make recommendations on what needs to change.

Since the inquiry got its start, four commissioners and staff have held hearings across Canada. Nearly 1,500 families and survivors came forward to share their stories and recommendations with the inquiry.

Experts and knowledge keepers gave their insights. Institutional leaders were questioned. Police files were reviewed by a specialized forensics team.

"I'm sorry that, for too many of you, the RCMP was not the police service you needed it to be during this terrible time in your life," RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki said in a statement of apology to the families of the missing and murdered during an inquiry hearing in Regina last year.

According to the inquiry's interim report, Indigenous women are 12 times more likely to be murdered or go missing than any other women in Canada. They are attacked — physically and sexually — almost three times as often as non-Indigenous women.

While today may be the last chapter for the inquiry, how its findings and recommendations are used to ensure Indigenous women and girls can live safely in Canada is just beginning.

Now it will be up to governments and institutions to review the final report and to take action.

Communities, advocates and individuals have been making change as best they can over the years. Drag the Red and the Bear Clan Patrol have become well-known examples of this kind of work.

But effecting systemic change in areas like the justice and child welfare systems requires national, provincial and territorial leadership and commitments.

Much like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's final report, the recommendations from the inquiry are not binding. It will take political will and funding commitments to actualize the gamut of recommendations.

Family members of those whose lives have been cut short by violence, and those who've survived violent experiences, will now be putting their energy into making sure the inquiry doesn't become "another report on a shelf."

A royal pain

Donald Trump's state visit to the U.K. is fraught with challenges Margaret Evans, the CBC's senior Europe correspondent, writes from London.

Managing "The Donald."

There's no doubt it's putting the art of diplomacy to the test in the United Kingdom this week.

The U.S. president hadn't even touched down for his three-day state visit before he had sent out a tweet calling the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, a "stone cold loser."

The day before, he also managed to call Prince Harry's wife Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, "nasty" in an interview with a British newspaper. Which he promptly denied, despite a recording of the remarks.

Britain, of course, has a not-so-secret weapon when dealing with challenging or unpredictable guests: the Royal Family.

"When there is a state visit, it doesn't matter who comes, you throw the royals at them," says Christopher Meyer, a former British ambassador to the United States.

Who better to keep a stiff upper lip and a neutral expression when faced with the rather predictable unpredictable-ness of Donald J. Trump?

Prince Charles might have looked a little cranky when he was heading down the stairs at Buckingham Palace, Camilla trailing behind, as Marine One landed.

But the smile was firmly in place by the time the president and the first lady had made it out of the helicopter and on to the lawn.

And Prince Harry was dutifully on hand to mingle with Trump and his daughter and son-in-law in the Palace Picture Gallery, slight or no slight to his wife.  

Queen Elizabeth greets U.S. President Donald Trump as he arrives for the ceremonial welcome at Buckingham Palace on Monday. (Victoria Jones/Reuters)

There's also a whole lot of the pageantry that Trump, by all accounts, so desperately craves.  

Diplomacy brought low? Not at all, insists Meyer.  

"Flattery is part of the game anyway, with anybody," he says.

And some egos, it goes without saying, are more susceptible to it than others.

But the royal buffer can only go so far. And tomorrow Trump will meet Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, now in the final death throes of her premier-ship.  

Trump has also already broken the unspoken rule of NOT meddling in the internal politics of another country while on a state visit by offering up his views both on May's successor … and how he or she should go about achieving Brexit – one of the most divisive issues in modern British history.

  • WATCH: Margaret Evans' coverage of Donald Trump's state visit to Britain, tonight on The National on CBC Television and streamed online

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Back to the Brexit future 

The National co-host Adrienne Arsenault returns to Peterborough, U.K. nine years later to look at how the city has changed in the age of Brexit.

There's something about returning to a story told long ago that appeals. It's a chance to finish sentences started earlier; to gauge whether predictions proved prophetic or problematic.

And so, off to Peterborough in the U.K.

Nine years ago we wandered its streets at what was considered by some there to be a time of crisis.

Charles Swift is a retired councillor for the city of Peterborough, U.K. A longtime Labour supporter, he is now voting in favour of Brexit. (Jean-François Bisson/CBC)

European migrants had been found squatting in strangers' garden sheds, living in the forest, desperate for something better than what they'd left behind.

City Councillor Charles Swift said then his city was changing and not for the better; arguing the population was surging so much with people in need that Peterborough was buckling under the pressure. He and others wanted a pause in how many new people were coming in.

This was curious coming from Swift and he acknowledged it. Decades earlier he'd been at the forefront of the welcome for South Asians who'd been pushed out of Uganda, as well as Vietnamese refugees.

At a time when some in Britain scoffed at opening doors to them, Swift proclaimed that in Peterborough lights were on and welcome fires lit in their new homes. He meant that literally and sincerely.

So, let's move the clock forward to this weekend. We went back to meet Swift in Peterborough. He had become the longest serving city council member in Great Britain.

He has retired now. His city's economy is healthier than many anticipated it would be. There is arguably solid job growth and a proliferation of small businesses and yes, a swelling population from across the world. It's not the catastrophe some foretold.  

Brexit Party candidate Mike Greene discusses an upcoming byelection in Peterborough, U.K. (Jean-François Bisson/CBC)

And yet, something has taken hold here.

Those arguments long ago about immigration became arguments about Brexit. Peterborough voted in the range of 61 per cent to leave the EU and, in a byelection this week, may vote in the very first parliamentarian representing the brand new Brexit Party.

I asked Swift if he thought the rumblings we witnessed nearly a decade ago were the start of the Brexit battle here.

"Oh definitely, there's no question about that," he said, arguing that even though he has voted Labour his entire life, even he will cast a vote for the Brexit Party. It's far from clear the party will win on Thursday but the nation is staring at this place wondering if this is the future.

Brexit Party Leader Nigel Farage surely hopes so. It's handy for him that his friend Donald Trump is in the neighbourhood. The "Make Britain great again" cap on the head of the Brexit Party volunteer says a lot about this moment.

Trump will be here to witness what happens. Expect some tweets.

  • WATCH: Adrienne Arsenault on the future of Brexit tonight on The National on CBC Television and streamed online

A lesson learned on D-Day

The terror of D-Day really hits home when you have the chance to speak to someone who was there, reporter Tom Murphy writes.

Whenever I see the grainy film footage of Canadian troops landing at Juno Beach during the Allied invasion of Normandy, I try to imagine what it must have been like. And then I met Havelyn Chiasson.

He was there three-quarters of a century ago as a radio operator serving with New Brunswick's North Shore Regiment.

"You're scared all the time … all the time. Night and day," he said. "You think about it now — you had no idea that it was going to be like that. No idea at all."

Nova Scotia D-Day veteran Havelyn Chiasson retraces the rail journey that brought him to Halifax, before he embarked for Europe. (Steve Lawrence/CBC)

The landing craft carried Chiasson right onto the beach. He stepped off and was immediately in battle.

Others didn't get that chance. Their landing craft hit mines, or the troops were forced to disembark in water that was too deep and drowned. And those who were "lucky" to make it ashore had to face the Germans' intense firepower.

"We lost 100 men in our regiment. Killed. So that was the biggest shock of all," Chiasson says. "We knew something was going to happen, but we had no idea that many men would be killed or wounded.

"And then, of course, the next day it just happened again. You just knew somebody was killed. Or Bill was killed. Jim was killed. You didn't pay much attention to it, you just had to keep on going."

I had the pleasure of riding the train from Amherst, N.S., to Halifax recently with Chiasson — the same route he took all those years ago before boarding the troop ships and heading over to England. He told me the stories about training for D-Day, about the battles he endured, and about finally being told to send out the ceasefire message to the troops.

Chiasson also talked about his return visits to France and the war cemeteries there, where he recognized so many of the names on the tombstones of Canadian soldiers.

"I say to myself, 'Was that really necessary? Why? Why couldn't people just be able to talk some sense into one another?'" he says.

"But then I say to myself, 'Well, the same thing has been going on to this day. They're still fighting in all these countries, and they have more knowledge than those people did back in those days. I don't know. I don't know. It's a mystery."

And that is Chiasson's hard-learned lesson of the Second World War. It's one he says is still relevant 75 years later.

And then, as Chiasson and I part company, I wonder: If I had been in his boots, could I have done what he did?

Maybe you've wondered the same thing.

  • WATCH: Havelyn Chiasson's story tonight on The National on CBC Television and streamed online.

A few words on ... 

A call for travelling.

Quote of the moment

"We earnestly admonish the Chinese authorities to face up to the historical mistake, and sincerely apologize as soon as possible."

On the eve of the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, Taiwan's government calls on Beijing to "repent."

What The National is reading

  • 'Purged' North Korean diplomat appears with Kim (BBC)
  • Trump urges AT&T boycott to punish CNN for its coverage of him (Washington Post)
  • Sudanese security forces kill 13 in attacks on democracy protest camp (CBC)
  • Archbishop orders Dublin gangland funerals to be toned down (Irish Times)
  • Indian pilots spot five bodies in search for missing Himalayas climbers (CBC)
  • British soldier taking part in D-day commemorations drowns (Guardian)
  • Japan's #KuToo movement fight workplace high heels (Japan Today)
  • Family discovers missing $1.7 million chess piece in a junk drawer (Sky News)
  • World's longest flight to be even less comfortable than expected (Strait Times)

Today in history

June 3, 1964: Anglophone Quebecers keep their culture

As the federal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism begins probing Canada's language issues, some English-speaking Quebecers wonder what all the fuss is about. "There is no problem maintaining language and culture," says one man. "We generally live in large enough groups so that we can maintain schools." Another anglophone talks about how his wife's French Canadian family has welcomed him with open arms — although he's worried that might change if Quebec separates.

Anglophone Quebecers keep their culture

2 years ago
English speakers in Quebec have little trouble maintaining their mother tongue. 2:08

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