Executive Director of MMIWG national inquiry resigns
- EFN Staff | January 12, 2018
After four months with the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), executive director Debbie Reid has stepped down. Reid is the second executive director to leave the inquiry. Michele Moreau resigned as the inquiry’s first executive director back in July. The commission couldn’t discuss the details of Reid’s decision but in a statement, they thanked her for her contributions.
“We are ensuring that the National Inquiry’s work is not disrupted during this time of transition,” the online statement said. “Director of Operations Calvin Wong will act as Interim Executive Director effective immediately.”
The Native Women’s Association of Canada was shocked and outraged to learn that Reid has resigned.
“First and foremost, our thoughts are with survivors of violence and with the families of the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls who are again having to endure very upsetting news from the Inquiry,” said NWAC in a press release. “These families have faced insurmountable obstacles coming to terms with personal tragedy; this resignation creates instability and a further setback at the National Inquiry.”
NWAC strongly believes that in order for the National Inquiry be a success, it must re-examine its administrative issues and operations. Most importantly, survivors and families of the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls must come first. These families are left in the dark and are learning the on-goings of the inquiry through sporadic and at times anecdotal communications. It is imperative that the National Inquiry’s leaders implement a clear and robust strategy for transparent communication to benefit families and achieve a successful outcome.
Gwenda Yuzicappi is the mother of Amber Redman who went missing in 2005 and was found dead in 2008 on the Little Black Bear First Nation near Fort Qu’Appelle. Yuzicapi said she is happy with Reid’s decision to step down as the executive director. She recalled seeing Reid at the National Inquiry into MMIWG Hearings in Saskatoon on November 21 to 23. Yuzicappi noticed how Reid wasn’t engaged with the families who were present and immediately, she felt a negative vibe.
“She wasn’t introducing herself…if she was there for the families, she would have been introducing herself,” she said. “I didn’t feel good vibes from it and that’s why I’m happy that she stepped down.”
Yuzicappi hopes the next executive director will be someone who is grassroots and who is open, understanding, empathetic and ready to listen to the families. These are the qualities that Yuzicappi did not see in Reid during the hearings.
“The next person they find for that position, they need to be asking more questions in their interviews in regards to that person’s empathy to the families,” Yuzicappi said. “I definitely will be inquiring whoever the next person is as a family. I want this inquiry to benefit the families and have an accurate report on all the families.”
According to a statement made by the National Inquiry into MMIWG, the work will continue as they prepare for their next two community hearings.
“We have a sacred responsibility to the 597 families and survivors who have entrusted the National Inquiry with their truths and the 600 more who are registered to do so,” the online statement said. “Commissioners and staff are united by a deep commitment, and we are working diligently to prepare for our next two community hearings in Yellowknife on January 23-25 and Rankin Inlet on February 20-22.”