The Missing Women Commission of Inquiry has released details of the seven community forums to be hosted in northern British Columbia during the week of September 12, with more possibly being held the following week as well.
Members of the communities and interested organizations are invited to participate. The goal, the commission said in a media release, is to provide the commission with perspectives from specific communities involved, since each one’s situation differs.
“The Commission believes it is important to hear directly from family members who have been most affected by the tragedy of murdered and missing women,” the panel stated.
Forums will be held in Prince Rupert, Terrace-Kitsumkalum, Gitanyow, Moricetown, Terrace-Nisga, Smithers and Hazelton.
These forums form the study portion of the commission’s charge. The hearings, the other part of the mandate, begin in Vancouver on October 11.
The British Columbia government has come under fire for refusing to provide funding for the legal costs of appearing before the commission during the hearings. Several aboriginal groups dropped out of the hearings process, saying they could not afford to participate. The commission recently found money in its own budget to hire two attorneys, and two more are working pro bono. The groups are reconsidering their withdrawal.
The commission was formed to investigate why serial killer Robert Pickton took several years to apprehend. He murdered dozens of women, many of them aboriginal, from Vancouver's Downtown East Side. Hundreds of murders and disappearances of aboriginal women across Canada remain unsolved. More information, along with locations and schedules of the community forums, can be found at the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry’s website.