August 25, 2011 – Dates and Venues Announced for Missing Women Commission of Inquiry Community Forums in Northern B.C.

The Missing Women Commission of Inquiry today provided details of seven community forums it will host in northern British Columbia in the week of September 12 and again invited members of the communities and interested organizations to participate. Additional forums may be held in the week of September 19.

The purpose of the northern B.C. forums is to give members of the communities an opportunity to provide input to the Commission on issues within its mandate. This will help inform the Commission’s report and recommendations for the effective initiation and conduct of investigations of missing and murdered women. It will also allow the Commission to take into account the situation in specific communities.

The Commission believes it is important to hear directly from family members who have been most affected by the tragedy of murdered and missing women.

Details of the community forums are as follows:

Prince Rupert Community Forum
Monday September 12
1:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Northwest Community College – Multipurpose Room
353 – 5th Street, Prince Rupert

Terrace – Kitsumkalum Community Forum
Tuesday September 13, 2011
8:30 am – 12:30 pm
Kitsumkalum Hall
3514 West Kalum Road, Terrace

Gitanyow Community Forum
Tuesday September 13, 2011
3:00pm to 5:00 pm
Gitanyow Independent School
3389 Third Ave, Kitwanga

Terrace – Nisga’a Community Forum
Tuesday September 13, 2011
7:30 pm to 9:00 pm
Nisga’a Community Room
101 – 4441 Lakelse Ave, Terrace

Moricetown Community Forum
Wednesday September 14, 2011
1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Moricetown Multiplex
205 Beaver Rd, Smithers

Smithers Community Forum
Wednesday September 14, 2011
6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
3955 3rd Avenue, Smithers

Hazelton Community Forum
Thursday September 15, 2011
9:00 am to 12:00 pm
Gitanmaax Hall
1965 Hwy 62, Hazelton

The forums are open to members of the public and the media.

The forums are part of the study commission portion of the inquiry. The Commission’s mandate includes a hearing commission and a study commission. The hearing commission portion will begin in Vancouver on October 11.

A study commission employs less formal means than a hearing commission, such as research, individual consultations and public forums, to gather the information required to fulfill the mandate to develop recommendations for policy change. The community forums will not be adversarial, individuals will make their presentations directly to the commissioner and although questions may be posed to participants by the commission counsel and the commissioner, there will be no cross examination.

Under its terms of reference, the Commission must hold its formal hearings into various aspects of the Robert Pickton case in or near Vancouver. It cannot inquire into ongoing investigations of missing or murdered women, such as the Highway of Tears cases.

However, the Commission has been asked to recommend changes considered necessary with respect to the initiation and conduct of investigations in B.C. of missing women and suspected multiple homicides, and to homicide investigations by more than one investigating organization, including the co-ordination of those investigations. Study commission activities will be designed with this responsibility in mind.

If they have not already done so, individuals or organizations interested in participating in one of the forums should register with the Commission by e-mail, telephone or in writing by September 8, 2011. Written submissions must be received by the Commission by November 30, 2011. Contact information is as follows:
Email: info@missingwomeninquiry.ca
Phone: Toll free 1-877-681-4470
Fax: 604-681-4458
Mail: #1402 – 808 Nelson Street, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H2

Presenters should provide their name and contact information and a brief description of what issues they plan to address. The forums will be open to the public and the media. Please visit the Commission’s website – www.missingwomeninquiry.ca – and go to the page “Ways to Participate” for more information, including a list of frequently asked questions regarding the northern B.C. community forums.

The Missing Women Commission of Inquiry was appointed by the British Columbia provincial government last year 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 gather information and make recommendations on the conduct of investigations of missing women and suspected multiple murders throughout the province.

In addition, 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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