When Marilyn Poitras, a Métis professor at the University of Saskatchewan, became a commissioner for the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls about 10 months ago, she felt like it was the beginning of a healing journey.
However, she resigned on Tuesday, citing issues with the “current structure” of the inquiry, which is set to get underway this fall.
CBC News spoke with Poitras, one of five inquiry commissioners named by the Liberal government, to learn why she stepped down and what she hopes for its future.
Why did you resign? What were your concerns?
“My main concern is that this commission is going down a tried road. We’ve been studied, we’ve been researched, we’ve gone and looked at Indians, and half-breeds and Inuit people for a long time to see what’s the problem.
“You tell us your sad story and we’ll figure out what to do with you. And we’re headed down that same path. And if it worked, we would all be so fixed and healthy by now. It doesn’t work.
“And so how do we change the trajectory of this commission and get it to go down a path where people in the communities are included in that resolution and that solution finding? And I couldn’t see that happening with the hearing processes.”
Why do you think the commission isn’t connecting with the Indigenous community?
“Because this model that we’re using has legal counsel driving it with an old traditional commission model of setting up hearings.
“The traditional colonial style says: You go in, you have a hearing, people come and tell you their problems and you figure it out.
“We had a new person join the team and one of the early questions she asked was, ‘OK, this should be a community-driven process from everything I’ve read — sort of…