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Canada Jun 4, 2017

Bishops hope for healing at Indigenous inquiry 

By Evan Boudreau

A life-size bronze monument honouring missing and murdered indigenous women and girls was recently unveiled near the main entrance of the Saskatoon police headquarters. (Tim Yaworski / CCN)

TORONTO (CCN)--The road to healing is long, but it’s a destination Canada’s bishops hope can be reached through a new national inquiry.

The long-awaited National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) began May 29 in Whitehorse with public meetings into what Bishop Douglas Crosby describes as a “horror.”

“We have written a letter very much in support of this inquiry,” said Bishop Crosby, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. “Hopefully it will bring some insight and it will bring understanding into what is a horror.”

Last month the CCCB issued a letter asking Canadian dioceses to support Indigenous communities by assisting the inquiry, as well as identifying and documenting residential school cemeteries.

“This will bring peace of mind and soul to a lot of Aboriginal people,” he said. “This is what this is about.”

The MMIWG inquiry was announced by the federal government on Dec. 8, 2015, and has been under fire with accusations that it has not communicated well with affected families.

It is estimated that at least 1,200 indigenous girls and women were either murdered or went missing over several decades.

“We need to find out exactly what has happened and where are these people and what has happened to them,” said Crosby.

The hearings will take an informal approach and be held in non-courthouse buildings. The Catholic bishops have offered the use of parish halls and centres as needed during the inquiry, which is scheduled to present its final report at the end of 2018.

Crosby said by using a spiritual setting the hearings have a greater chance at going beyond conversations.

“It is not just a conversation, it has got to lead to healing,” said the Bishop of Hamilton. “It is the healing process and the healing process is done by dialogue.”

In addition to providing a place for the hearings the Catholic bishops have called on local parishes to assist those involved with the inquiry with transportation, accommodations, and spiritual support as needed.

The Catholic Register