Opposing views within the committee on indigenous women

Photo: Andrew Vaughan, The canadian Press
Robert Pictou shows the photo of his daughter, Virginia Pictou Noyes, who disappeared 24 years ago.

Another resigned from the national survey of native women deplores the philosophies of professional diverging within the team. The lawyer Alain Arsenault is accusing the commission of inquiry of having lied about the reasons for his resignation.


“I left the national survey not for personal reasons or due to a number of hours exhausted in my contract, but for differences important professional “, ruled Me Arsenault of Duty, on Friday, debunked the reasons given by the national survey to explain his resignation in mid-December, and that Radio-Canada reported Thursday evening. “I always believe a commission of inquiry on aboriginal women missing, murdered and victims of all forms of violence,” argued the lawyer. But for the rest, he did not want to give more details on the internal problems that have convinced him slam the door.


The commission of inquiry has had its share of trouble since its inception in 2016.


It seems, according to our sources, that some of the departures are explained by the confrontation of two different visions. The commissioners would support the testimonies of the families of the victims and survivors. Others would like to see an approach that is more judicial, which may go beyond these stories to expand it to records or testimony of the authorities which would prove of the problems of systemic discrimination.


The president of Quebec native Women, Viviane Michel, to this second camp. “If we want justice to be done, the legal side is really important,” she said to the Duty on Friday. “It is necessary to call the people involved to come forward, as investigators, the Sûreté du Québec or of the police. “


The anxiety is at its peak, in the aboriginal Women of Quebec. “I’m optimistic, these resignations-there are worrying us,” admitted Mrs. Michel, that a colleague is considering outright to withdraw its support for the national survey. Viviane Michel is not made there. But it requires the accounts to the commissioners, who must share a game plan detailed in order to convince families to continue to trust them. “We need to be reassured. “The native women’s Association of Canada said it was” shocked and outraged ” to learn of the most recent departures of Me Arsenault and the director-general Debbie Reid, who left his post on Thursday.


The result is the same for the president of the council of women of the national Association of First Nations, Denise Stonefish. “The concerns of the families are legitimized. And what is all this tell us about the investigation, when one sees a succession of all these resignations ? ” asked the chief of ontario. Ms. Stonefish did not, however, it is also too disheartened. “I’m still optimistic because I don’t want to see fail this important investigation, for families and for women who are no longer our own. “


Some aboriginal leaders have called for the departure of the chief commissioner Marion Buller, last December, at a meeting of the Assembly of First Nations. The commissioner said, stoic, that it would remain in place, as are the other three commissioners.


According to our sources, Ms. Buller did not feel concerned by the problems that haunt the national survey.


Members of the internal team have, however, been criticized for “lack of vision” and be at the head of a commission of inquiry that constantly changes strategy.


Sue Montgomery, who has left the communications team last summer, had complained to Duty in September a ” lack of leadership “. “The big problem was that there was no plan. Each day, we had meetings and decided upon a plan. And the next day it changed “, about the former journalist, who has since become mayor of Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grace.


Since his departure in early June 2017, thirteen other employees have left the national survey — including the commissioner Marilyn Poitras — and four others were dismissed.

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