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MKO chief 'cautiously optimistic' new hire can put MMIWG inquiry back on track

October 8, 2017 10:00 AM
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MKO chief 'cautiously optimistic' new hire can put MMIWG inquiry back on track

Debbie Reid, of Manitoba's Skownan First Nation, named new executive director of inquiry

Sheila North Wilson says the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls made a smart decision in hiring Debbie Reid as its executive director.

"I've always found her to be smart and respectful and knows how to relate to sensitive issues," said North Wilson, the grand chief of the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, said.

"I wish her the best and I hope this inquiry can turn around with people that are actually from the grassroots and know the communities."

North Wilson made the comments before news broke late Saturday that the inquiry would lose two more staffers.

The announcement of Reid's hire was made Friday. A member of Manitoba's Skownan First Nation, Reid has more than 10 years of experience in senior positions within the federal public service, including stints in the Privy Council Office and the First Nation and Inuit Health Branch within Health Canada. She also worked as a special advisor to former national chief Phil Fontaine when he was with the Assembly of First Nations.

The inquiry has run into troubled waters in recent months with criticism that victims' families weren't being adequately consulted about the shape of the inquiry. The inquiry's former executive director and one of its commissioners resigned in the wake of that dissatisfaction.

North Wilson has been at the forefront of that criticism, joining other Manitoba chiefs last month in calling for Manitoba representation on the inquiry's executive and a regional subcommission to ensure families and survivors come first.

Reid's hiring appeared to satisfy that first request. But North Wilson said she's far from certain as to whether Reid's hire will change what she considers to be a "problematic" tone set by the inquiry's commissioners.

"I still think the lead commissioner is not the right person to lead it," she said.


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