MMIWG inquiry visit to Nunavut raises awareness, but not participation
“It’ll make it a lot easier and smoother process when we return”
Registration remains low for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ first Nunavut visit, planned for December 2017.
But the inquiry’s team of Inuit staff said Nunavummiut are much more aware of the commission’s work after hosting a three-day community visit in Rankin Inlet last week.
“We had a couple of intakes on the spot, but other people said they’d talk to their families and get back to us,” said Looee Okalik, the Inuit community liaison officer who visited the Kivalliq community last week.
“The individuals were very passionate and willing to tell their stories.”
The commission is set to host its first Nunavut-based hearing when it returns to Rankin Inlet Dec. 11.
To protect the identity of witnesses, Okalik wouldn’t state the exact number of people who have signed up to take part in the December hearing so far, but said there were only a few registrations.
But Okalik said the Aug. 15 to Aug.18 visit was critical to allow inquiry staff to do community outreach and answer questions about the commission’s process—in Inuktitut.
“With Inuit being very practical, it’s good to gain that knowledge first hand,” she said. “It’ll make it a lot easier and smoother process when we return in December.”
Over the three-day visit, inquiry staff—including health support workers, lawyers and community relations staff like Okalik—met with Rankin Inlet’s municipal council, Kivalliq Inuit Association executives and other local support services, such as Victim Services at Rankin Inlet’s Pulaarvik Kablu Friendship Centre.
Earlier this summer, the federal commission announced its first set of community hearings, which run from September through December 2017.
A community member in Rankin Inlet, Laura MacKenzie, initiated the invite with the support of the local hamlet and Qulliit Nunavut Status of Women.
Nunavummiut from Rankin Inlet and other communities have the next few months to register to provide testimony at the December hearing.
Participants can apply to get funding to cover travel and accommodation costs for themselves and a support person, and childcare if necessary.
Nunavummiut can get in touch with the inquiry through these means:
• by phone, toll free at 1-844-348-4119;
• by fax at 604-775-5009;
• by mail at PO Box 500, Station A, Vancouver BC V6C 2N3;
• by email at firstname.lastname@example.org; or,
• in-person during a community visit ahead of the hearing date.
The commission also has an Inuktitut-language web page with more information.
This week, the inquiry is hosting a national expert panel hearing in Winnipeg called Indigenous Law and Decolonizing Perspectives. Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. lawyer Sandra Omik will address the panel Aug. 23 at 11:30 a.m. on Inuit Law and Life Experience.
You can watch Omik’s testimony, in Inuktitut, via this live webcast.