The Assembly of First Nations is the latest group to withdraw from the British Columbia Missing Women’s Commission of Inquiry in Vancouver for the victims of serial killer Robert Pickton.
According to National Grand Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, the AFN feels that it can no longer participate because of the limitations of the inquiry itself and an imbalance and inequity in legal resources made available to the parties.
“The principle objectives behind AFN’s participation from the beginning have been to support the families, to bring to light systemic issues that gave rise to these tragedies and finally to identify efforts toward resolution of those issues,” said Atleo.
“We hoped the inquiry would shed light to uncover truths that could help with the healing process for the families as well as to begin to point the way forward so that all women and the most vulnerable have access to justice. Without equity and balance, systemic issues will not be brought forward and will therefore not be reflected in the recommendations of the Inquiry,” added Atleo.
The AFN’s announcement comes one week after Vancouver’s Women’s Memorial March Committee and the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre pulled out from the inquiry, despite the fact that they too were granted full status. The two groups have joined a boycott of the Commission as, without funding for legal representation from the government, they cannot actually participate.
While the provincial government is funding 14 lawyers representing the police and government, they were only willing to shell out for an additional two to represent the families of the 18 women.