The national inquiry looking into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada is asking for two more years to finish its work. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Troubled inquiry into missing, murdered Indigenous women seeks two more years

OTTAWA — The national inquiry looking into the saga of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada is formally asking for two more years to finish its work.

The inquiry was originally scheduled to wrap up at the end of this year, but chief commissioner Marion Buller has long warned more time would be necessary.

“The commissioners and I firmly believe that an additional two years is required to do justice to our critically important mandate for the safety and security of Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQ (LGBTQ and two-spirit) people,” chief commissioner Marion Buller said in a statement released Tuesday.

“The response from families, survivors and Indigenous communities has been overwhelming, and we have a sacred responsibility to them to continue moving forward.”

The office of Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett confirmed it had received the inquiry’s request and that the minister would speak with families, Indigenous partners, provincial and territorial officials and her cabinet colleagues over the coming weeks about the possibility of an extension.

“The families of these women and girls need answers to the systemic and institutional failures that lead to the murder of so many Indigenous women,” Bennett said in a statement.

“We are committed to getting them the concrete recommendations they have been waiting for, and putting an end to this ongoing tragedy.”

The federal government established the inquiry in late 2015 to examine the evidence behind a disproportionately high number of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada, and to give family members a chance to have their stories heard.

An additional two years would extend the inquiry’s mandate to the end of 2020.

The commission has so far heard from more than 760 witnesses during nearly 250 public, in-camera and community hearings held across the country.

But the process has been fraught with controversy and delays, including the high-profile departures of key personnel and public complaints about long delays and a lack of communication with stakeholders.

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