Native, women’s groups step up boycott of ‘deeply flawed’ process

By Neal Hall, Vancouver Sun

Fifteen groups, including aboriginal organizations, plan to boycott the policy forums next month of the “flawed’ Missing Women Inquiry.

“The commission has lost all credibility among aboriginal, sex work, human rights and women’s organizations that work with and are comprised of the very women most affected by the issues this inquiry is charged with investigating,” the groups stated Tuesday in a letter to Inquiry Commissioner Wally Oppal.

“We are not prepared to lend the credibility of our respective organizations’ names and expertise to this inquiry, which can only be described as a deeply flawed and illegitimate process,” the letter said.

“When this inquiry was finally called, we fully expected it to be a meaningful and inclusive process …” the letter added. “However, it has become pain-fully clear over the course of the inquiry’s proceedings that this inquiry is not a meaningful and inclusive process.

“Instead, it has served to repeat the same discrimination and exclusion that we had hoped it would uncover.”

The letter was signed by the Aboriginal Front Door Society, Amnesty International Canada, Atira Women’s Resources Society, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, Battered Women’s Support Services, Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, Down-town Eastside Sex Workers United against Violence Society, Ending Violence Association of B.C., Feb. 14 Women’s Memorial March Committee, First Nations Summit, Providing Alternatives Counselling & Education Society, Pivot Legal Society, Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, Union Gospel Mission, West Coast LEAF and WISH Drop-in Centre Society.

The groups, along with the Native Women’s Association of Canada, were granted standing at the inquiry but withdrew last year when Victoria refused to provide legal funding for the groups to hire lawyers to examine documents and cross-examine witnesses at the inquiry.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, said Tuesday that the inquiry has been a complete failure. “Mr. Oppal is beating a dead horse,” he told reporters.

Lisa Yellow-Quill of Battered Women’s Support Ser-vices, who called for a national inquiry into the issues of systemic racism and sexism said, “this inquiry is not working and we’re moving on.”