The BCCLA, West Coast LEAF, Pivot Legal Society, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, and other organizations have written to the MPs on the Special Committee on Violence Against Indigenous Women to urge them to integrate the lessons learned from the failed Inquiry in BC in order to ensure that the Special Committee develops a more inclusive, productive and healing process for its own work.
To date, calls for accountability at the national level for the hundreds of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls across Canada have been effectively stonewalled. In our view, the creation of this Special Committee falls far short of the independent public inquiry called for by the community for so long. We are deeply concerned about the Special Committee’s lack of independence, the potential for its politicization and the distinct possibility that it will be unable to investigate the depth and breadth of the crisis.
It is clear that without an independent public inquiry, we will not uncover the whole story behind the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls or the systemic reasons for the failed police response to the crisis. However, it is also clear that this Special Committee is currently the only forum that the federal government has identified to address these issues. It is therefore essential that the Special Committee be prepared, equipped and committed to procedures with the greatest potential to uncover important information and make meaningful recommendations to prevent this tragedy from continuing.
In the Blueprint for an Inquiry report, the BCCLA, West Coast LEAF and Pivot make 23 recommendations for future inquiries involving marginalized groups. The recommendations focus on broad trends and procedural approaches that can be adapted to the Special Committee’s particular structure. Recommendations for consulting and collaborating with affected communities, developing terms of reference through inclusive processes, supporting vulnerable witnesses, and ensuring that all relevant evidence is brought before the Commission are all highly and practically relevant to the Special Committee as it begins its work. Our letter asks the Committee to consider this report as it maps out its work and process.