November 23, 2010 – Dates Set For Missing Women Commission of Inquiry Community Engagement Forums in Vancouver and Prince George

The Missing Women Commission of Inquiry has rescheduled the date for the community engagement forum in Vancouver to Wednesday, January 19, 2010 and will hold a similar forum in Prince George on Friday, January 21.

The forums have been called to hear from residents of B.C. who have been impacted by the tragedy of the missing and murdered women. The Vancouver forum was originally scheduled for December 6, but has been changed so that it does not conflict with National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada.

The Vancouver forum will be held from 4:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. at the Japanese Language School, 487 Alexander Street, Vancouver. The Prince George Forum will be held from 4:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. at the Prince George Civic Centre, 808 Civic Plaza.

In announcing the forums earlier this month, Commissioner Wally Oppal said that they would give people the opportunity to come forward and speak about the effect the missing and murdered women cases have had on their lives.

“It seems to me that understanding the full impact of these events on communities will help the Commission focus its inquiry more clearly on the most important issues once the public hearings begin,” said Mr. Oppal.

He added that while a disproportionate number of the missing and murdered women were from the Aboriginal community, representatives of all communities should feel welcome to come forward to participate in the community engagement forums.

Mr. Oppal said he would use the forums to describe the role of the Commission, clarify its terms of reference and seek community input on procedural matters.

“In seeking input from the community, I not only hope to encourage feedback that can be realistically covered within the Commission’s mandate, but also find ways to deal with issues that are raised and that are plainly outside of the scope of the Commission’s work,” said Mr. Oppal.

He added that the community engagement forums would not take the place of formal hearings of the Commission, which are expected to begin in Vancouver next year.

Applications for standing to participate in the Commission’s evidentiary hearings are being accepted until November 30, 2010. Details are available in the “Practices and Procedures” section of the Commission’s newly launched website: www.missingwomeninquiry.ca

The Commission was appointed by the British Columbia provincial government to inquire into the conduct of police investigations of women reported missing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside between January 23, 1997 and February 5, 2002. The Commission’s terms of reference also allow it to inquire into the investigation of missing women and suspected multiple murders throughout the province.

Specifically, the Commission will examine the decision by the B.C. Criminal Justice Branch on January 27, 1998 to stop legal proceedings against Robert William Pickton on charges of attempted murder, assault with a weapon, forcible confinement and aggravated assault.

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