MMIWG inquiry makes last-minute visit to Nunavut

Inquiry staff in Cambridge Bay Dec.15-16


Staff with the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women arrive in Cambridge Bay Dec.15 for a two-day community visit. (FILE PHOTO)

Staff with the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women arrive in Cambridge Bay Dec.15 for a two-day community visit. (FILE PHOTO)

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls is making a last-minute visit to Nunavut this weekend to meet with community members and gather statements from residents of Cambridge Bay.

Members of the inquiry’s Inuit team are set to arrive in the Kitikmeot community on Friday, Dec.15, where they’ll host a two-day visit at the Ublu Inn on Friday and Saturday.

The event is considered a community visit and not an official hearing, the inquiry said.

“This is part of community visits to prepare for upcoming community hearings as well as gathering statements [from] people who don’t want to participate in the hearings per se,” said inquiry spokeswoman Nadine Gros-Louis in a Dec. 14 email.

The visit comes during the same week the inquiry was initially scheduled to host its first Nunavut hearing in Rankin Inlet.

But commissioners postponed that hearing Nov. 23, citing privacy concerns with the venue booked to host the event in the Kivalliq community.

Inquiry staff said they’re working on a schedule for new community hearings to be held in 2018, though Gros-Louis said those new dates wouldn’t likely be published until the new year. Dates for the rescheduled hearing in Rankin Inlet will be announced before Christmas, she said.

The inquiry did not publicly announce its plans to visit Cambridge Bay. CBC reported that inquiry staff were in Inuvik, N.W.T. this week—another unplanned and last-minute visit they reportedly made at the request of community members.

In Cambridge Bay, the hamlet learned about the upcoming visit just this week.

It’s unclear if the hamlet made a formal invitation to the inquiry; Nunatsiaq News was unable to reach Cambridge Bay’s outgoing mayor and now MLA, Jeannie Ehaloak, nor its newly elected mayor, Pamela Gross.

Community members who would like to meet with inquiry staff or give statements should contact Cambridge Bay’s wellness centre, which is hosting the group.

Bernice Lyall, a local court worker in Cambridge Bay, said she learned of the inquiry visit this week but hasn’t decided yet if she’d like to participate.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of her daughter’s death; Lyall is also a cousin of Angela Meyer, a Yellowknife woman who has been missing since 2010.

Lyall said it’s still too painful for her to talk about her family’s loss, but she believes the national inquiry gives Indigenous women an important platform.

“I think this is very empowering to women,” she said. “Especially young women, to say, ‘We don’t want to be treated this way.’”

“I think it would help by bringing insight and closure to some families.”

The inquiry is about 15 months into its initial two-year mandate, though it has been just three months since commissioners began hosting community hearings across the country.

Commissioners have recently asked the federal government to extend its mandate.

If you’d like to participate, you can reach the national inquiry by phone toll-free at 1-844-348-4119. The inquiry also provides Inuktitut information on its website.

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