Mandate for missing, murdered inquiry very important: Justice Murray Sinclair – CP

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Mandate for missing, murdered inquiry very important: Justice Murray Sinclair – CP

by pmnationtalk on November 6, 2015338 Views

Source: The Canadian Press
Nov 5, 2015 17:24

By Kristy Kirkup

THE CANADIAN PRESS

OTTAWA _ Justice Murray Sinclair, who led the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s exhaustive investigation of the residential schools legacy, says the mandate of a future inquiry on missing and murdered indigenous women remains a significant question.

The new Liberal government has pledged to move forward on a study of the issue immediately _ a decision that addresses one of 94 recommendations presented by Sinclair’s commission.

During the election campaign, the Grits promised to spend $40 million to examine the issue over two-years.

“I think the way that an inquiry like this is going to be run is going to be significant question and consultation and education around that is key,” Sinclair said. “The commitment was made during an election campaign and I think it needs to be formalized as a government.

“We haven’t seen that yet. I’m looking forward to seeing that.”

Sinclair said it is also important to educate people about the inquiry’s objective, once it is determined.

“The nature of public inquiries is that they cannot be an exercise in criminal culpability, so it’s not like the inquiry is going to be able to name names and point fingers and accuse people,” Sinclair said. “Legally, they’re prevented from doing that. It’s more looking at systemic issues.”

He also recommends that Canada consider a model used in Australia to examine Aboriginal deaths in custody, where sub-commissioners were appointed.

“That’s the key, making sure that you develop its mandate, its structure and its processes adequately before you actually start putting witnesses in the chair,” Sinclair said.

Perry Bellegarde, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, is urging the new government to ensure there is an action plan to accompany the inquiry.

Bellegarde said his organization supports the inquiry, but he hopes it follows movement on long-standing problems, such as aboriginal housing and education.

“It’s not just about the inquiry,” he said. “There also has to be an action plan and investments made in the root causes of this violence amongst our peoples.”

Carolyn Bennett, the new minister of indigenous and northern affairs, is a long-time advocate for an inquiry.

She said she wants to “get this right.”

“There is a number of initiatives going on, but mainly we know we have to listen to the families,” she said. “We have to listen to the legal strategy team.”

Bellegarde said Bennett is a positive choice for the ministry because, as the former Liberal aboriginal affairs critic, she knows the files well and can hit the ground running.

“There’s not going to be a huge learning curve for her because she’s really on top of a lot of the issues,” Bellegarde said.

The national chief also said he is pleased that former AFN regional chief Jody Wilson-Raybould is the new justice minister.

Bellegarde said they worked as partners when he was the regional chief for Saskatchewan.

“She brings a lot of experience and professionalism to any job that she is going to do,” he said “Having her appointed to cabinet is a major thing ? she’s going to do a good job.”

Sinclair said people need to appreciate the symbolism of an aboriginal person as minister of justice and attorney general.

“I think that’s, in and of itself, an act of reconciliation that people need to recognize,” he said. “I anticipate that after carefully analysing the situation that she’s being presented with, that Jody will probably get elbows deep into the work.”

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