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Northern families hope latest MMIWG inquiry departure doesn't affect upcoming hearings

Northern families hope latest MMIWG inquiry departure doesn't affect upcoming hearings
From CBC - January 12, 2018

Northern families expressed a mixture of frustration and hope following the news the executive director of the national inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls had left her post just weeks before scheduled hearings in Yellowknife and Rankin Inlet.

The inquiry announced the departure of Debbie Reid on Thursday, making her the second executive director to leave the post since the inquiry began its work last September.

The departure is latest high profile loss for the inquiry, which has experienced a high rate of turnover since last February. The inquiry has lost more than 20 people to firings, resignations and layoffs over the past year.

"Right now I am feeling angry and I feel that they are not doing their job," said Doris Catholique, whose niece Charlene Catholiquehas been missing for more than 25 years.

She was last seen walking on a highway near Yellowknife on July 22, 1990.

"It's been so long since she left;I do pray for her," said Doris Catholique, in phone interview from Lutselk'e, N.W.T.

"I hope [the inquiry]succeeds and they try to locate her, find her and at least bring her home where people will lay her to rest."

Catholique's family is expected to attend the inquiry hearings in Yellowknife which are scheduled to being on Jan. 23.

Need to move forward

Laura MacKenzie, the former president of the Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, women's shelter who worked to get the inquiry to hold hearings in the community, said she is still holding on to hope the recent departure wo not affect the hearings scheduled to being there on Feb. 20.

"As long as it moves forward, that is my only concern, that we continue on regardless ofany issues going on with the inquiry," saidMacKenzie.

MacKenzie said she was initially disappointed when the inquiry postponed its hearings in Rankin Inlet in December, but said families are now prepared to tell their truth when the time comes.

MacKenzie said at least 15 families are registered to attend the Rankin Inlet hearings and she plans to testify publicly about her aunt Betsy Kalaserk, who was found dead in a Yellowknife apartment in 2003.

Kalaserk's husband was convicted of criminal negligence causing death.

"I have been preparing probably pretty much since there was the invitation," she said.

Inquiry needs Inuit advisory council

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