Witnesses scheduled to testify in Rankin Inlet say they’ve been contacted by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls informing them that the hearings in the community have been cancelled.
“Isn’t that horrible that they can do that?” said Laura MacKenzie who opposes the move – especially at short notice. “I find it totally unacceptable.”
MacKenzie is one of two people to tell APTN News Thursday of the abrupt cancellation.
The hearings were scheduled to take place in December.
According to sources, the hearings will now take place in Iqaluit, or Montreal in February.
“This is an emotional and mental exercise that people have to prepare for. They don’t need to be waiting during the holidays. They need to be mentally resting then,” said MacKenzie.
A request seeking comment from the inquiry was not immediately returned.
MacKenzie said she is one of approximately 15 people scheduled to testify in Rankin Inlet during the second week of December.
She said inquiry staff confirmed Rankin is off the table. She said witnesses like her would travel to the new cities and stay in hotels at the inquiry’s expense.
Another Inuit witness, who was coming to Rankin from a southern city, said she received a call from the inquiry about delaying the Nunavut hearings to February.
She said she can accommodate the change.
But this is more controversy for the embattled inquiry, which is criticized almost daily for everything from firing staff to failing to communicate with families.
MacKenzie supports the inquiry and was one of the families who wrote to the commissioners and invited them to hold community hearings in Rankin.
She is planning to testify about the death of her aunt.
She is now angry at this change in direction.
“This now worries me that there may not even be a hearing in Nunavut,” she said. “This is the mental closure my family needs.”
This would be the second postponement after Yellowknife, which still hasn’t been rescheduled.
So far commissioners have visited Whitehorse, Smithers, B.C., Winnipeg, Membertou, N.S, Edmonton and Saskatoon.
They next plan to stop in Maliotenam, Que., and Thunder Bay.