Cullen Offers Mixed Reaction to MMIW Inquiry Details
Prince George ,B.C – M.P. Nathan Cullen whose Skeena-Bulkley riding covers a significant stretch of the roadway that’s become known as the Highway of Tears, offers some kudos and concerns about the federal inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women.
Cullen says it was good news to hear the inquiry will look at addressing the root causes of violence, ““Requiring the MMIW inquiry to thoroughly unpack the deeply rooted challenges that underlie and sustain violence against aboriginal women and girls, from racism to poverty and everything in between, is absolutely a step in the right direction to bring justice to past victims and put future generations on the path to a safer future.”
Cullen noted the Highway of Tears Symposium, held in Prince George ten years ago, found that poverty, often intergenerational, is the most significant contributing factor for many of the aboriginal women hitchhiking on Hwy 16. The symposium report notes the percentage of families living at, or below, the poverty line in First Nations communities is disproportionately higher than any other population segment in Canadian society.
“Of key concern, however, is the fact the MMIW inquiry doesn’t appear to identify a direct role for the provinces and territories, despite underlying problems in provincially-regulated police and child welfare services that can actually increase the risks of violence to already vulnerable Indigenous women and children,” Cullen said.
Other concerns, also expressed by women’s groups and social service providers, are the narrow focus of the inquiry and limited trauma and support services to victims, families and witnesses expected to testify at the inquiry.
Cullen will continue to work with the families of Highway 16 victims of violence to hold the federal inquiry to account, deliver justice to victims, and secure a safer future for Indigenous women and girls.
The MMIW inquiry will begin Sept. 1 and run until Dec. 31, 2018, at an estimated cost of $53.8 million.