(Wankeek Horn-Miller at a conference in 2013. Courtesy Facebook)
APTN National News
Waneek Horn-Miller, a former Olympian who was working as the inquiry’s director of community relations, is the latest person to leave the commission.
The national inquiry is tasked with exploring the root causes of violence toward Indigenous women and girls.
A spokesperson for the inquiry says Horn-Miller’s departure is due solely to family reasons.
For weeks, the commission has faced questions from concerned family members who say they have lost faith in the process, which is expected to take at least two years and cost $53.8 million.
In an open letter released today, additional family members called on the commission to start over from scratch, citing the resignation last month of one of the commissioners, Marilyn Poitras.
The commissioners say they are moving ahead with their work and receiving feedback from families, including through a national advisory circle.
The families said a meeting with Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett where they expressed concerns that families were being ignored didn’t go well.
“Prime Minister Trudeau, we are asking you today to give us back our Inquiry. We have met with Minister Bennett and she has refused to listen clearly to what families are saying,” the letter states.
“Instead, she has been relying on minor tweaks and small changes to a deeply-flawed process.”
The Trudeau government called the national inquiry after taking power in late 2015 that is supposed to address why so many Indigenous women and girls have been murdered or gone missing in the last three decades.
An RCMP review of police files across Canada from 1980 to 2012 found over 1,100 Indigenous women had been murdered or were still missing.
That number has only grown since.
But the inquiry has faced multiple delays and criticism from First Nations leaders, families and advocates over the inquiry’s scope, lack of communication and multiple staff leaving since five commissioners were appointed last summer.
That includes former commissioner Marilyn Poitras who stepped down this summer questioning the inquiry’s structure.
“To meet its mandate, the inquiry must now undergo a hard reset and the current commissioners must respectfully resign to create space for families and communities to heal from the colonial approach that was adopted and instituted,” the families said to Trudeau. “We need to reset this inquiry and build it up – in a good way – from the communities directly affected by continued violence against Indigenous women and girls.”
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-with files from The Canadian Press