OTTAWA — The national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women says that reviewing police files is a “centrepiece” of its investigation, but nearly a year and a half into its mandate, many police agencies across the country say the inquiry has not asked them for records.
The inquiry also says it has been unable to start reviewing the police files it does have due to technological challenges, though the problems have recently been resolved and it expects that work to begin shortly.
Since its launch, the national inquiry has been criticized for not focusing enough on police missteps during investigations involving Indigenous women. Last summer, the inquiry went out of its way to clarify that it “can and will consider the conduct of policing services.”
But it is unclear what has been achieved since then. Police agencies in eight major Canadian cities — Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal — say they have not been contacted by the national inquiry to provide documents.
“The Vancouver Police Department has not had any requests from the national inquiry on missing and murdered Indigenous women,” said a spokesperson for the agency. The Edmonton Police Service said it “has not given any files to the inquiry. We have never been contacted to provide files.” The EPS is currently conducting its own review of cold cases involving Indigenous women.
Kelly McParland: Indigenous women inquiry is a disaster Trudeau simply can’t keep ignoringJonathan Kay: Current MMIW Inquiry a terrible mash-up of two modelsInquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women calls for creation of national police force
Jennifer Cox, the commission’s lead legal counsel, said there are ongoing “conversations about document production” with police agencies’ legal teams. The inquiry currently has case files from “pretty much all over the country,” Cox said, some obtained through subpoenas and others from family members. But the inquiry did not provide details about what subpoenas it has issued, or which police forces have been contacted.
Cox also suggested subpoenas may not have been issued to police services in cities where hearings haven’t yet taken place. “A lot of the information we get is just prior to the hearing, or just after the hearing,” she said.
But hearings have already taken place in Winnipeg, Edmonton and Saskatoon, where the city police services all say they have not been asked to provide records.
The national inquiry has obtained documents …read more