January 16, 2011 – Members of the Public Encouraged to Attend Missing Women Commission of Inquiry Community Engagement Forums This Week

 

The Missing Women Commission of Inquiry community engagement forums scheduled for Vancouver and Prince George this week will give the public an opportunity to provide input into the Inquiry’s work, Commissioner Wally Oppal said today.

“The main purpose of the community forums is to help me and the Commission staff understand the full impact on communities of the tragedy of the murdered and missing women. We will then be able to focus our work during the public hearings much more clearly on the most important issues,” said Mr. Oppal.

The Vancouver forum is this Wednesday (January 19) from 4:00 p.m. ‑ 7:00 p.m. at the Japanese Language School, 487 Alexander Street, Vancouver. The Prince George Forum will be on Friday (January 21) from 4:00 p.m. ‑ 7:00 p.m. at the Prince George Civic Centre, 808 Civic Plaza.

While the forums are open to anyone who wishes to attend, Mr. Oppal said he is particularly interested in hearing from family members of the murdered and missing women and other people who were directly impacted by the tragedy.

“We know that a disproportionate number of the missing and murdered women were from the Aboriginal community and we definitely want to hear from that community, but we would also appreciate representatives of other communities coming forward to tell us their stories,” he said.

Mr. Oppal said he would spend some time at the start of each forum describing the role of the Commission and clarifying its terms of reference. “As I’ve said previously, I hope to encourage feedback that can be realistically covered within the Commission’s mandate,” said Mr. Oppal.

He added that the community engagement forums would not take the place of formal hearings of the Commission, which will begin in Vancouver later this year.

The Commission will hold two days of public hearings in Vancouver on January 31 and February 1 to hear presentations from most of the 21 groups that have applied for standing to participate in the inquiry. The sole purpose of these two days of hearings is to determine whether or not applications for standing will be permitted.

The hearings will take place at 12th floor, 1125 Howe Street from 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Based on written applications, Mr. Oppal has already granted standing to the Department of Justice (representing the RCMP), the City of Vancouver (representing the Vancouver Police Department), Crown Counsel for the province of British Columbia and the family members of the Downtown Eastside victims as represented by Mr. Cameron Ward.

A list of the applicants has been posted on the Commission’s website – www.missingwomeninquiry.ca

The Missing Women Commission of Inquiry 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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