The head of the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women confirmed Thursday the Rankin Inlet hearings will remain in the community but will be put over until the new year.
APTN News reported Thursday afternoon that family members in the community had received calls from the inquiry saying the hearings had been postponed and there was a plan to move them to Montreal or Iqaluit.
Marion Buller said in a release late Thursday the inquiry will now postpone the December hearings until 2018 citing problems with the venue.
“…It was determined that the space originally planned to hold the hearings will not be able to accommodate the privacy and safety of those families wanting to share their truths,” Buller said.
“I want to apologize to our families who have been preparing to attend.”
The delay shocked Laura MacKenzie, the Rankin resident who invited the commission to the northern town where she also plans to testify about the death of her aunt.
MacKenzie said inquiry officials called her earlier Thursday to say Rankin could be off the table entirely and the hearings moved to Iqaluit or Montreal.
She said she believed media reports to that effect forced the commission to alter the dates only.
Something she said is still an inconvenience and upsetting for families like hers.
“Without the media reporting on this there may not be a hearing in Nunavut at all,” she said. “We will be holding them to this.”
This is the second time the inquiry is altering its schedule. It cancelled a stop in Yellowknife and still hasn’t announced a new date for that city.
It is the first time it is claiming safety is an issue. Most hearings have been held in major hotel banquet rooms with the locations broadcast to the public.
Buller said her team has identified “an improved location” in Rankin.