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Northern families expressed a mixture of frustration and hope following the news the executive director of the national inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls had left her post just weeks before scheduled hearings in Yellowknife and Rankin Inlet.

The inquiry announced the departure of Debbie Reid on Thursday, making her the second executive director to leave the post since the inquiry began its work last September.

The departure is latest high profile loss for the inquiry, which has experienced a high rate of turnover since last February. The inquiry has lost more than 20 people to firings, resignations and layoffs over the past year.

“Right now I am feeling angry and I feel that they are not doing their job,” said Doris Catholique, whose niece Charlene Catholique has been missing for more than 25 years.

She was last seen walking on a highway near Yellowknife on July 22, 1990.

Charlene Catholique

Charlene Catholique loved to watch cartoons to make her laugh before she went to school. The 15-year-old disappeared from Behchoko, N.W.T., on July 22, 1990. The Behchoko RCMP is investigating the missing persons case, and investigators last had contact with family around 2008. (CBC)

“It’s been so long since she left; I do pray for her,” said Doris Catholique, in phone interview from Lutselk’e, N.W.T.

“I hope [the inquiry] succeeds and they try to locate her, find her and at least bring her home where people will lay her to rest.”

Catholique’s family is expected to attend the inquiry hearings in Yellowknife which are scheduled to being on Jan. 23.

Need to move forward

Laura MacKenzie, the former president of the Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, women’s shelter who worked to get the inquiry to hold hearings in the community, said she is still holding on to hope the recent departure won’t affect the hearings scheduled to being there on Feb. 20.

“As long as it moves forward, that is my only concern, that we continue on regardless of any issues going on with the inquiry,” said MacKenzie. 

MacKenzie said she was initially disappointed when the inquiry postponed its hearings in Rankin Inlet in December, but said families are now prepared to tell their truth when the time comes.

MacKenzie said at least 15 families are registered to attend the Rankin Inlet hearings and she plans to testify publicly about her aunt Betsy Kalaserk, who was found dead in a Yellowknife apartment in 2003.

Kalaserk’s husband was convicted of criminal negligence causing death.

“I have been preparing probably pretty much since there was the invitation,” she said.

“I am ready for the meeting and I hope something positive comes out of all this.”

Mary Ann Birmingham

Mary Ann Birmingham, 15, was brutally murdered in her home in Iqaluit on May 26, 1986. (RCMP)

Elisapee Sheutiapik, a Nunavut MLA whose sister Mary Ann Birmingham’s 1986 killing remains unsolved, said she has serious concerns about the high turnover of inquiry staff.

“I know I’ve asked for a reset and then I re-thought,” said Sheutiapik.

“We need a pause. Obviously there’s something wrong with the inquiry, with the commission, with that many departures.”

Inquiry needs Inuit advisory council

Rebecca Kudloo, president of Pauktuutit, which represents Inuit women, said she received a call Thursday from inquiry Chief Commissioner Marion Buller who assured her that the hearings would go ahead despite Reid’s departure.

Kudloo said her organization has been critical of the inquiry for lacking an Inuk commissioner and she hopes the internal troubles won’t affect its work in the North.

“I think there needs to be some changes in how it operates because we have been having a lot of communication problems coming from them,” said Kudloo, in an interview from Baker Lake, Nunavut.

“We want this inquiry to be meaningful for the Inuit.”

Rebecca Kudloo

Rebecca Kudloo of Baker Lake, Nunavut, is the president of Pauktuutit. (Submitted by Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada)

Kudloo said the inquiry plans to hold a meeting in early February with Indigenous organizations in Ottawa, but the actual date needs to be set. She said the inquiry needs to create an Inuit advisory council representing all the Inuit homelands.

Kudloo said she hoped the inquiry gets the time extension it intends to request from the federal government so it can visit more Inuit communities.

“We want this inquiry to work, for sure,” she said.

The inquiry’s current mandate ends in December 2018. Buller has stated she doesn’t believe the inquiry can do its work properly without more time.

Indigenous-Crown Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett has said she is open to an extension but is waiting on a proposal from the inquiry.

MORE FROM CBC INDIGENOUS: First Nations entrepreneurs are asserting sovereignty and seizing the new cannabis economy

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Edmonton /ˈɛdməntən/ (About this sound listen) is the capital city of the Canadian province of Alberta. Edmonton is on the North Saskatchewan River and is the centre of the Edmonton Metropolitan Region, which is surrounded by Alberta’s central region. The city anchors the north end of what Statistics Canada defines as the “Calgary–Edmonton Corridor”.

The city had a population of 932,546 in 2016, making it Alberta’s second-largest city and Canada’s fifth-largest municipality.[5] Also in 2016, Edmonton had a metropolitan population of 1,321,426, making it the sixth-largest census metropolitan area (CMA) in Canada. Edmonton is North America’s northernmost city that has a metropolitan population over one million. A resident of Edmonton is known as an Edmontonian.

Edmonton’s historic growth has been facilitated through the absorption of five adjacent urban municipalities (Strathcona, North Edmonton, West Edmonton, Beverly and Jasper Place) and a series of annexations ending in 1982.[ Known as the “Gateway to the North”, the city is a staging point for large-scale oil sands projects occurring in northern Alberta and large-scale diamond mining operations in the Northwest Territories.

Edmonton is a cultural, governmental and educational centre. It hosts a year-round slate of festivals, reflected in the nickname “Canada’s Festival City”. It is home to North America’s largest mall, West Edmonton Mall (the world’s largest mall from 1981 until 2004), and Fort Edmonton Park, Canada’s largest living history museum.

Further information: History of Edmonton and Timeline of Edmonton history

The earliest known inhabitants settled in the area that is now Edmonton around 3,000 BC and perhaps as early as 12,000 BC, when an ice-free corridor opened as the last glacial period ended and timber, water, and wildlife became available in the region.[20]

In 1754, Anthony Henday, an explorer for the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), may have been the first European to enter the Edmonton area. His expeditions across the Canadian Prairies were mainly to seek contact with the aboriginal population for establishing the fur trade, as competition was fierce between the Hudson’s Bay Company and the North West Company. By 1795, Fort Edmonton was established on the river’s north bank as a major trading post for the Hudson’s Bay Company. The new fort’s name was suggested by John Peter Pruden after Edmonton, London, the home town of both the HBC deputy governor Sir James Winter Lake, and Pruden.

In 1876, Treaty 6, which includes what is now Edmonton, was signed between the Aboriginal peoples in Canada (or First Nations) and Queen Victoria as Queen of Canada, as part of the Numbered Treaties of Canada. The agreement includes the Plains and Woods Cree, Assiniboine, and other band governments of First Nations at Fort Carlton, Fort Pitt and Battle River. The area covered by the treaty represents most of the central area of the current provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta.

The coming of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) to southern Alberta in 1885 helped the Edmonton economy, and the 1891 building of the Calgary and Edmonton (C&E) Railway resulted in the emergence of a railway townsite (South Edmonton/Strathcona) on the river’s south side, across from Edmonton. The arrival of the CPR and the C&E Railway helped bring settlers and entrepreneurs from eastern Canada, Europe, U.S. and other parts of the world. The Edmonton area’s fertile soil and cheap land attracted settlers, further establishing Edmonton as a major regional commercial and agricultural centre. Some people participating in the Klondike Gold Rush passed through South Edmonton/Strathcona in 1897. Strathcona was North America’s northernmost railway point, but travel to the Klondike was still very difficult for the “Klondikers”, and a majority of them took a steamship north to the Yukon from Vancouver, British Columbia.
Jasper Avenue, ca. 1907

Incorporated as a town in 1892 with a population of 700 and then as a city in 1904 with a population of 8,350, Edmonton became the capital of Alberta when the province was formed a year later, on September 1, 1905. In November 1905, the Canadian Northern Railway (CNR) arrived in Edmonton, accelerating growth.

During the early 1900s, Edmonton’s rapid growth led to speculation in real estate. In 1912, Edmonton amalgamated with the City of Strathcona, south of the North Saskatchewan River; as a result, the city extended south of the North Saskatchewan River for the first time.

Just prior to World War I, the boom ended, and the city’s population declined from more than 72,000 in 1914 to less than 54,000 only two years later. Many impoverished families moved to subsistence farms outside the city, while others fled to greener pastures in other provinces. Recruitment to the Canadian army during the war also contributed to the drop in population. Afterwards, the city slowly recovered in population and economy during the 1920s and 1930s and took off again during and after World War II.

The Edmonton City Centre Airport opened in 1929,[33] becoming Canada’s first licensed airfield.Originally named Blatchford Field in honour of former mayor Kenny Blatchford, pioneering aviators such as Wilfrid R. “Wop” May and Max Ward used Blatchford Field as a major base for distributing mail, food, and medicine to Northern Canada; hence Edmonton’s emergence as the “Gateway to the North”. World War II saw Edmonton become a major base for the construction of the Alaska Highway and the Northwest Staging Route.

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Originally posted 2018-01-12 18:45:43. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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