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Missing Women Inquiry resumes next week, but will it make a difference?

Some new years resolutions are, sadly, not made by those who matter most.
And so, on January 11, we head into Round Two of the Missing Women's Inquiry. At its helm: retired BC Liberal politician and the province's former Attorney General Wally Oppal.

I am sad to report that, after following and finally covering the proceedings this last few months for the Vancouver Observer, I have next to no faith the inquiry will deliver change, truth or justice. 

I have in past articles described Oppal's role in the inquiry as “beleaguered” -- but that actually seems extremely unfair. Unfair, in particular, to the very people who have “beleaguered” him: families of the Robert Pickton's victims, almost every community agency in the Downtown Eastside, and to top that off, the reputable Amnesty International and the Assembly of First Nations. All of those agencies, except the Vancouver Area Drug Users Network (VANDU) announced they would boycott the hearings because they had no faith in a fair process or a just outcome.

When the Inquiry first launched in October -- met by community protests -- I called up Amnesty International's Canadian head, Alex Neve, to ask why the world's largest human rights organization was pulling out of the hearings.

“The government is sending a very clear sign that [Indigenous women's] voices don't matter and simply aren't wanted,” Neve told me. “It's cruelly ironic that an inquiry supposed to grapple with access to justice for Aboriginal women does so in a way that undermines that completely.”

There seems little point in rehashing the problems of Oppal's tenure. From the beginning, participating groups have felt discouraged, nay, shut out of this critical inquiry into why police botched so badly the investigation into serial killer Robert Pickton. Police could have caught him in the late 1990s – they had informants begging to bring him in, they had ample evidence, not to mention that sex workers were, at the time, warning each other of a Coquitlam pig farmer preying on women.

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