The executive director of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls says there have been some serious failings in the way families have been treated by commission staff.
Debbie Reid confirmed the contents of a letter, first reported by CITYNews Ottawa, from the National Family Advisory Circle saying family members are experiencing depression because of a lack of health support during and after their hearings.
The letter also said family members had been left stranded at airports.
The group also complained it had little or no input into the recently filed interim report, which called for the creation of a fund to help families with the costs of participating in the Inquiry.
”So there are backlogs, there are backups, but we`re addressing them,” Reid said as three days of hearings wrapped up in Edmonton. “And I feel very confident that what the National Family Advisory Circle has raised as issues, we are now in the process of addressing.”
The circle is comprised of family members from across Canada. Members who say they are frustrated with the way they’re being treated.
Reid confirmed the members say the inquiry is disorganized at times.
”Every inquiry is a learning experience for us. There is no rule book. So we`ve learned a lot,” Reid told reporters. ”We`re getting our groove in how we can support families and we`re doing much better.”
Reid said staff is working 18 hour days travelling across the country to hold hearings.
She said 75 witnesses were heard in Edmonton alone and they passed the 1,000 families registered mark earlier that day.
”And that`s all within just six months,” she added.
The circle is just the latest group to voice concerns with the $54-million Inquiry.
Everyone from opposition politicians to survivors of violence have said the commission can and should do better.
Especially since it was formed more than a year ago. Plenty of time, they say, to get things right.
But Reid said they’ve been hamstrung by federal government bureaucracy that has led to major delays and affected their ability to respond to families.
The Inquiry moves next to Saskatoon.