First Nations chiefs have backed a resolution calling on Marion Buller, the chief commissioner of the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls inquiry, to resign.
By a vote of 48 to 15, chiefs gathered at the Assembly of First Nations special meeting in Ottawa said they want the federal government to both extend the time of the inquiry — by tacking on an extra two years beyond the scheduled completion date of November 2018 — but also “reset” the process by appointing a new leader.
The Liberal government does not have to adhere to the non-binding resolution, and, in an interview with CBC News before the vote, Buller said she had no plans to step aside.
“I came into this knowing there would be a great deal of criticism, and I always welcome informed, constructive criticism because it’s helped us do our job better,” she said.
When asked if she thought people supportive of the inquiry are having their voices drowned out by those in opposition, she said that’s a question for the media to ask itself as it routinely gives a platform to those critical of the inquiry. “What I hear in hearings … families are very supportive of the work we’re doing. It’s up to you in the media to decide, I’m not going to tell you who to talk to.”
Chief Peter Collins, of Fort William First Nation, first introduced the motion at the assembly calling for an extension without the condition Buller leave her post, but agreed to the addition after it became clear most chiefs were unhappy with the commissioner’s leadership.
Buller, who had only minutes earlier made a presentation to the AFN, received little if any applause from chiefs when she defended the inquiry’s work, and recounted stories of families who are supportive of the study. Rather, when it came time for a question and answer session, she faced an onslaught of criticism.
The most scathing came from Grand Chief Sheila North Wilson, who heads the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, a group of some 30 First Nations in the province’s north.
‘You’re not a brilliant commissioner’
“You’re not a brilliant commissioner for this inquiry. Sorry, and not sorry at the same time. We need to see you resign. All of you commissioners should resign but for me personally it’s you … the commission is falling apart.”
In an interview after her public rebuke of Buller, Wilson said Buller is too cold and “heartless” in her approach to families and survivors. “This inquiry needs to go on, but not under her…