The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls is making a last-ditch effort to rally families and survivors as it builds a case for more time and more money.
But families and friends who have testified about their missing and murdered loved ones remain divided on whether the inquiry deserves an extra two years and $50 million more in federal funding.
“I’m very hopeful that the inquiry is granted the extension so that we may complete this very important healing journey,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, during the hearings in Richmond, B.C. on Friday.
Commissioner Michèle Audette urged supporters to help get the commission’s mandate extended.
But some families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls are accusing the national inquiry of prematurely beefing up registration numbers.
Connie Greyeyes-Dick, a prominent figure in the missing and murdered movement in British Columbia, said inquiry staffers have approached at least two family members from B.C. to put them on a list “in case” they get an extension. Greyeyes-Dick said she has been in support of the inquiry – but not an extension.
“The inquiry called me and asked me to gather families from this region to register to testify. I asked where would they testify and they said we just want them to be on the list in case we get an extension,” she said. “I told them I would not do someone else’s job and certainly not get the hopes up of families to be disappointed. No thanks. No extension. No.”
Sue Caribou, testified during the Winnipeg hearings, said she’s upset about the way she was treated and doesn’t think the inquiry is deserving of an extension.
“I hope and pray they don’t get it,” she said.
A spokesperson for Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett said there’s still no decision on whether the inquiry will get an extension.
With files from Kathleen Martens