Saskatoon MMIW support group critical of inquiry extension
The national inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) and girls has six more months to complete their research.
While the extension is good news to some, others are raising concerns over limited resources.
“It’s a good thing for all the families in the north,” Darlene Okemaysim-Sicotte, co-chair of Women Walking Together, said in Saskatoon on Tuesday.
“I know for Saskatchewan, we need more northern statement-taking and hearings, we’re still advocating for that.”
Iskwewuk E-wichiwitochik (Women Walking Together) is a local support group that gives the families of MMIW opportunities to share their stories and raise awareness of the issue.
Originally, the inquiry requested a two-year extension, but the federal government announced Tuesday the inquiry would have until April 30, 2019, to finish their work and submit a final report.
“We were hoping for June 30, 2019, to gather more information,” Okemaysim-Sicotte said. “But I think because of the amount of testimony that’s been seen, that the volume of material (the inquiry) have to put together and report on would require more than a few months.”
The original deadline for the inquiry’s report was set for Nov. 1 of this year.
For the group, there is also concern around the lack of new funding for the six-month timeframe.
“When there’s no resources to help the commissioners and their writing team and their legal team to put together all that material for their final report, it takes away from the families who can still submit their material … that’s the catch-22,” Okemaysim-Sicotte said.
Department officials said they will work with the inquiry to determine the budget. The Liberal government had initially earmarked $53.8 million and two years for the inquiry to complete its work.
The government did announce funding on Tuesday, including an additional $21.3 million to expand health supports for families and survivors who participate in the inquiry.
Another $9.6 million over five years will go toward supporting the RCMP’s new national investigative standards and practices unit, and will fund a review of police policies and practices regarding their relations with Indigenous peoples.
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