Missing Women Commission of Inquiry Needs to Face the Facts

News Release. March 22, 2012

Coast Salish Territory, Vancouver, British Columbia – The First Nations Leadership Council is greatly troubled by yesterday’s announcement from the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry regarding the “appointment of two Independent Counsel presenting issues related to Aboriginal interests.”

“The announcement represents a sad commentary on the great travesty known as the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry. As we have long maintained, it is totally unacceptable that the BC Government would establish an Inquiry into the deaths and disappearances of so many missing Aboriginal women and yet, in order to save money, deny Aboriginal peoples the opportunity to use their own voice to make substantive contributions to the Inquiry,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. “With this announcement, it is clear the Inquiry is scrambling to prove its relevance and credibility.”

“The Commission is not getting the message. Appointing independent counsel is an inappropriate and inadequate solution to ensuring a meaningful Aboriginal role in the Inquiry,” stated Grand Chief Edward John of the First Nations Summit. “It is entirely unrealistic to expect that any counsel would have the ability to properly review the vast amount of information in the extremely limited timeline. The Inquiry is fundamentally flawed by its narrow mandate, the restrictive interpretation of that mandate and the absence of critical Aboriginal voices. Sadly, the result is that the Inquiry has no hope of being a meaningful illumination into key issues and policing in our society.”

BC Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Jody Wilson-Raybould concluded, "At the outset, the First Nations of BC strongly encouraged the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry to respect the families of missing and murdered women, Downtown Eastside Women’s groups and First Nations’ organizations by ensuring their meaningful participation in the Inquiry. The Inquiry continues despite the fact that almost all of these groups have formally withdrawn. The Inquiry has, however, heightened public awareness and justice will need to be served. Despite the obvious failings of this Inquiry, we will continue to fight on to ensure that the voices of our most vulnerable are heard so that we may seriously address the systemic problems in our justice system."

For more information please contact:
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip
President, Union of BC Indian Chiefs

Grand Chief Edward John
Political Executive, First Nations Summit

Courtney Daws
Director of Operations, BC Assembly of First Nations

UBCIC is a NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.