Five commissioners appointed to missing women inquiry

The federal government is preparing to mark the end of its work to shape the design and scope of the inquiry examining missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada.

"We need to identify the causes of those disparities and take action now to end them", Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, an indigenous woman, said on Wednesday.

The federal government announced funding Wednesday of $16.2 million over the next four years for victims' services and to create liaison units to assist families.

With the process expected to last at least two years and cost at least US$53.8 million, it's high time that justice be realized for the many women and their families.

"Canada's inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls is a direct result of the generational impact of residential schools combined with today's child welfare crisis, which stems from poverty and despair".

"For over a decade, the families of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls have been demanding action", she said. "We were very glad to have her and disappointed that we're going to lose her, but it's for a good cause".

Nakuset agreed, saying it will be a heartbreaking realization for many, especially because of the skepticism surrounding the police work that deemed the cases closed in the first place. North Wilson said. "They are the ones who deserve the credit for the fact that we are now talking about an inquiry because they pushed the issues".

Smith's sister is one of more than 164 indigenous women now listed as missing in Canada.

Canadian families and advocates alike have used that degree of global scrutiny to amplify their calls for an inquiry - calls that until this year have gone unheeded.

Marion Buller, the first indigenous woman to be named a judge in Canada's westernmost British Columbia province in 1994, will chair the five-member commission.

"Our goal is to make concrete recommendations that will ensure the safety of our women and our girls in our communities", said Buller, the chief commissioner. "Families who say the death of their loved one was called a suicide or an accident or an overdose, as opposed to a murder-those patterns are the kinds of things the commissioners will have to look into", she said, adding that having both sides "lawyer up" is not the best use of the commissioners' time.

"Provinces and territories are in the process of passing orders in council that will allow this inquiry to cover matters in their jurisdiction, making this a truly national inquiry".

Williams said she has more questions than answers and is not sure if she is ready to embrace the inquiry.

The commission will begin its inquiry on September 1 and says it will issue a final report and recommendations based on its findings by December 2018. "This is especially critical given that numerous systemic issues that need to be changed are within systems that fall under provincial jurisdiction, including child welfare, health services and most police services". "We need to start working as of right now, in collaboration with indigenous chiefs and leaders and every level of government to help indigenous women and improve their living conditions".

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