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The troubles inside Canada's MMIWG inquiry

Bella Bresse wipes away a tear as she speaks about her murdered daughter, Evangeline Billy, at the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls taking place in Whitehorse, YT., Wednesday, May 31, 2017. (Jonathan Hayward/CP)

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – The commissioners heading Canada’s National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls say they have heard the criticism aimed at the inquiry, and are determined to change.

Throughout the spring and summer, the inquiry has been plagued by high level defections and sustained criticism: for its failure to communicate with survivors and families of the missing, and for its disorganized and chaotic roll-out. Some nationally recognized Indigenous leaders are calling on commissioners to step down, and for the Liberal government to reset the inquiry.

The inquiry’s embattled leadership spoke to Maclean’s about its future. They say they are planning to re-engage with media, with families of the missing and with national Indigenous organizations. But one commissioner warned that the process isn’t going to be easy. “To think we are going to do that in a linear, smooth way-that’s not rocky and emotional and heart-wrenching-is foolhardy,” said Qajaq Robinson. “And I think people in this country need to become okay with the difficulties and how uncomfortable this will be.”

Maclean’s also spoke with more than a dozen individuals, from disillusioned family members of the murdered and lost to people inside the inquiry. Together, their accounts provide a clear picture of why an inquiry bearing such high hopes had no sooner started than appeared to be falling to pieces.

One is Sue Montgomery, who resigned as communications director in June, and raises questions about the inquiry’s leadership. “That’s what the inquiry lacks,” she says. “Someone with the courage to say: ‘Here’s where we are, here’s where we’re going, and here’s the map, now let’s go.'”

Click here to read the full investigation.