Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett makes first statement
By Mercedes Deutscher, News Editor
Staying true to their election promise of beginning an inquiry into the numerous cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal women, the Liberal Party will be launching an inquiry by the end of November.
Carolyn Bennett, the newly appointed Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, explained to the Canadian Press how the process will work. It will begin with asking the families of the victimized women for their accounts of the incidents.
“A gathering is important with the families, but I think that we feel that we will have to go out and talk to people who can’t come here and listen,” said Bennet in the Canadian Press interview. “I would see that there would be also an online opportunity.”
From there, the inquiry will involve the provincial and territorial governments, and the representatives of grassroots (civilian operated) organizations. The inquiry is expected to cost around $40 million, as promised during the election.
Building trust is the first of many steps that must be taken in order to conduct a successful inquiry. Many in Canada’s indigenous population have grown distrustful of the federal government, particularly during the term of Stephen Harper, who had stated that such an inquiry would not be conducted by the Conservative government, and they would instead work to prevent further incidents. Bennett will be instructing her resources throughout the country to get a general idea of how trustworthy the Aboriginal population believes the government to be, before moving on to reconcile any problems.
The move has had a positive reception from chiefs across the country.
Another method of regaining the trust of the indigenous population will involve increasing federal funding to Aboriginal resources.
In regards to increasing support, Bennett said: “We intend to look at how we go forward with this fastest growing segment of the Canadian population being able to benefit from the programs that will allow them to be successful.”
The inquiry has also been suggested to observe records of violence that often occur around indigenous communities. “I think most people that I’ve been listening to want the scope to be broad enough to deal with those complex issues,” Bennett added.
Interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose offered her support of the inquiry. This news came as a relief to Bennett, who believes that the inquiry will be most successful with the approval and assistance from all parties in Parliament, as it will result in fewer delays, and lead to discovering what happened to these women and offering closure sooner.