QNW reacts to Minister Bennett’s response to the extension request by the NIMMIWG
Kahnawake, June 5th 2018 – Québec Native Women (QNW) is disappointed by the announcement made by Minister Carolyn Bennett regarding the extension request made by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (NIMMIWG). From the very beginning of the NIMMIWG, QNW expressed that it needed a considerable extension, due to the large scope of the mandate, and the high hopes and expectations of the families.
For several months, QNW has expressed its preoccupation towards the NIMMIWG’s capacity to fulfill its mandate, particularly regarding the legal aspect of the inquiry. Following the March 6 extension request, we held a press conference on Monday March 19th 2018, to ask that the NIMMIWG take some time to stop, reorganize and consider the files of families who testified. We expressed that the inquiry had not properly assumed its responsibility of consultation and transparence, and we consider that the legal mandate was not adequately fulfilled. Moreover, on Monday April 16th, QNW met with the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, to present the pressing issues related to Indigenous women and girls, and the limits of the ongoing inquiry commissions.
QNW also met with Minister Bennett on May 3rd at her office, where we presented a document stating our position and recommendations. We expressed that we didn’t consider the NIMMIWG to be an inquiry, but rather a family testimony commission. We are preoccupied that the government might consider it has ensured the realization of an inquiry, when in fact that is not what has been taking place.
We recognize that the measures proposed by the federal government help answer specific needs, and are definitely a step in the right direction. However, the extension and the funding offered are not fully satisfying for QNW, as they will not lead to the analysis of the files of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, nor will they allow to shed light on the systemic discrimination they experience in the legal system. Funding does not grant the power to inquire.
“We are disappointed that the measures granted by the government don’t reflect our recommendations for the success of the NIMMIWG. It’s disappointing to see that a government that claims to work towards reconciliation with First Nations is not doing everything in its power to ensure the success of this historic commission. For many years, we have stated loud and clear that families want answers, and concrete results. QNW has fought for this inquiry to happen successfully, and we expect the NIMMIWG to take advantage of the time it has left to make sure it truly fulfills its legal mandate,” states Viviane Michel, President of Québec Native Women.
Following this announcement, and considering our strong preoccupations regarding the legal aspect of this inquiry, we will have to review whether or not we continue to participate.
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Source : Julia Couture-Glassco, Communication Officer
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