(Laurie Odjick, centre, at the Maliotenam hearings. To her left is commissioner Michele Audette. Photo: Tom Fennario/APTN)
APTN National News
The mother of a missing Quebec teenager says she was told by the executive director of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) that there will be no Montreal hearings unless the federal government grants an extension.
Laurie Odjick said she was told this by the inquiry’s director Debbie Reid.
“Hearing that was very heartbreaking,” said Odjick, an Algonquin from Kitigan Zibi First Nation in western Quebec.
Odjick is the mother of the Maisey Odjick, a teenager who, along with her friend Shannon Alexander, vanished from Maniwaki, Que in 2008.
Odjick has been an advocate for families ever since and was flown to the latest MMIWG inquiry hearings in Maliotenam to provide support to the inquiry and commissioners.
Instead, she told APTN News, she received this news.
“My heart is hurt because I want answers,” said Odjick.
But according to the commissioners, the Montreal hearings are not off the table.
“We recognize the importance of Montreal for both the Montreal and Quebec Indigenous community,” said commissioner Qajaq Robinson. “It’ll be difficult for us to get to all the places that we need to go without an extension, this is an undeniable reality, but at this point, there’s no reason to think that Montreal is dependent on an extension.”
Inquiry commissioner Michele Audette was more direct.
“We’ll make sure, I will, that we go there in the Winter,” said Audette.
For her part, Odjick said there seemed to be a breakdown in communication between the commissioners and their executive director.
She said for peace of mind, would like to see a winter and spring schedule released as soon as possible.
“I think the families have a right to know which communities that they won’t be going to because so many families want this,” she said.
“And for me to be told yesterday that there might not be one without an extension, I can’t even explain my heartbreak and disappointment for that.”
When asked when dates for winter and spring will be released, Robinson said it was too soon to give an answer.
Hearings in Maliotenam First Nation continue until Friday before heading to Thunder Bay, Ont. For hearings from December 4-6.
Follow Tom at the hearings here: