(MMIWG Commissioner Marion Buller at the Assembly of First Nations special chiefs assembly in Ottawa Thursday. Photo: Mark Blackburn/APTN)
A small quorum of chiefs at the Assembly of First Nations special chiefs assembly in Ottawa have voted in favour of a resolution to back any request to the government for an extension to the current mandate from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls but an amendment was added that Chief Commissioner Marion Buller must step down.
The vote on the floor of the AFNSCA was 48 in favour and 15 against.
The resolution came after Buller addressed the assembly.
Her message to chiefs and delegates was that despite a number of hurdles facing the commissioner, the inquiry is doing good work.
But the question and answer session that took place were not complementary to the inquiry, or Buller.
“We wanted an inquiry for families, not a federal inquiry – something has to change,” B.C Chief Judy Wilson said.
Since being announced, the inquiry has floundered under the weight of expectations from families, and what appears to be a flawed communications strategy.
There has been a heavy staff turnover, disorganized meetings, and cancelled or postponed hearings.
As an example, just last week, the executive director of the inquiry told families that there would be no Montreal hearings unless an extension was granted by the government.
Soon after, commissioner Michele Audette contradicted the inquiry’s director and assured families that a Montreal hearing would happen whether there was an extension or not.
The week before that Rankin Inlet families told APTN News that the inquiry had told them the hearings in the Nunavut community would be moved to Iqaluit or Montreal.
Soon after, the inquiry clarified that it was looking for a new venue.
(MKO Grand Chief Sheila North Wilson at the AFNSCA in Ottawa Thursday. Photo: Mark Blackburn)
All of this was brought up Thursday at the inquiry.
“I’m sure you are a brilliant human being, but you are not a brilliant commissioner said MKO Grand Chief Sheila North Wilson. “You have to step down.”
In response, Buller said she and the commissioners will not step down.
“The commissioners and I plan to continue,” she said. “Families and survivors are telling us how important our work is.”
More to come.