Cheam Chief Ernie Crey of Chilliwack has long backed the dream of a national inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
Now more than ever it needs to push forward, he said, despite some highly publicized upheaval and internal turmoil.
Inquiry hearings were delayed. MMIWG Staff replaced. Commissioners stepped down.
As a result some families and academics have asked in a letter that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau consider a hard reset for the entire MMIWG process.
But not Crey.
“I’m not aware of a single public inquiry that hasn’t met with some controversy — and this is no exception,” said Chief Crey.
“But this is the long-awaited inquiry, and it just needs to continue, not start from scratch. Some family members are saying they should just get on with it.”
Crey’s sister, Dawn Crey, was listed among the thousands of missing women in the early 2000s. Although Dawn’s DNA was found at the Pickton farm, he was never charged with her murder among the six he was convicted for.
But Crey has been relentless over the years in advocating for an inquiry on behalf ofsurviving families.
That’s why he thinks the commission should appoint new members, and move on. Or maintain it as is and move on. There is no need for panic, Crey said, nor should the process be abandoned or reset completely, as some have suggested.
But most importantly, the national inquiry must continue to the final reporting stage, and come up with real recommendations for effective action to prevent and eliminate the rampant violence, he said.
Crey is one of many families across Canada watching the MMIWG inquiry, with a vested interest in seeing results from the process.
The inquiry, which acknowledges MMIWG as a “national tragedy that must be brought to an end” aims to dig down to the roots of systemic violence, including sexual violence, against First Nations women and girls, looking at the impact of the Indian Act, and the history of colonialism, and institutionalized attitudes.
“Hundreds of families are looking to see what the commission has to report,” Crey said. “But it’s not what they find or recommend, it’s what we do at the end of it. They want to see solid recommendations come out of it, like with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. And they want all levels of government to take the recommendations and make adjustments in how they do business to address the violence, murders and disappearances.
“That’s what the families want.”