Inquiry into missing indigenous women

The first phase involves consulting with victims’ families and Aboriginal leaders.

Canada’s Liberal government launched a national inquiry into missing and murdered First Nations women on Dec. 8.

The first phase involves consulting with victims’ families and Aboriginal leaders.

The government has reportedly pledged $40 million over two years for the initiative.

Activist and Highway of Tears film director Matt Smiley said he is overjoyed by the news.

Smiley’s award-winning documentary, which was screened on the West Coast in August, heavily advocated for a national inquiry into Canada’s missing and murdered First Nations women.

“I think we can kind of look towards the bright future,” Smiley told the Westerly News from his home in L.A.

“These cases will be heavily investigated, studied over, and most likely some families will at least get the justice that they’ve been seeking.”

Shortly after the Liberals won a majority government, Smiley said he was contacted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office to help connect federal staff with the victims’ families that he had met while making Highway of Tears and screening it across Canada.

“Within hours they were literally already on the job,” he said.

“I was floored by how quickly their turn around time was. I’m touched that they’ve reached out to me and are including me in these processes and linking them in with families.”

When the Montreal-born director started filming Highway of Tears in 2012 he had no idea his efforts would help spawn such a historical government led program.

“I went into this very blindly. I think I went into it with a lot of passion and not really knowing what story I was going to tell nor how it was going to be received,” he said.

“I don’t feel alone in pushing for it anymore. It was a fairly individual effort, of course with the help and support of all the family members, but to know that all the various levels of government are now on it, it’s very comforting. I can ease off the gas pedal. My job in terms of picketing is done.”

The Westerly reached out to Carol Martin Young for comments, but was unable to connect with her before press time. Carol Young is the aunt of 21-year-old Lisa Marie Young, who went missing from Nanaimo on June 30, 2002.

nora.omalley@westerlynews.ca