The national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls wants to hear from women who are incarcerated, living on the streets and staying in homeless shelters.
Commissioner Qajaq Robinson said the inquiry has already developed partnerships with organizations like the Elizabeth Fry Society, which provides assistance to women entangled in the criminal justice system.
“To really get to the root of these issues, we have to hear from those most affected by it,” said Robinson on Wednesday, at the beginning of a two-day hearing in Happy Valley-Goose Bay in Labrador. “So reaching those women and those girls is imperative to make sure we have the information that we need to find solutions that truly work.”
The inquiry has formally asked the federal government for a two-year extension and an extra $50-million. Without the extra time and funding, Robinson said the inquiry won’t be able to accept much evidence past May.
“We’ll be really limited in the number of people we can reach and the number of distinct groups and peoples we can reach,” she said.
In almost every community the inquiry has visited, the turnout has been double what members expected, said Robinson.
The inquiry is also planning on hosting an expert panel this spring, with a focus on international and domestic human rights.
Meanwhile, more than 20 families and survivors are expected to testify in Happy Valley-Goose Bay this week.