Carolyn Bennett, the Minister of Crown and Autochthonous Relations, says she is proud of the fact that the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) investigation has documented the enormous injustices faced by First Nations, Métis and Inuit women – but she also defends, despite requests for Commissioners to continue further, requested a timetable for the investigation.
Since the start of the investigation in 2016, Commissioners have announced that they would need an extension of the two-year timeframe originally set by the Federal Liberal Government.
Watch the interview with Commander Marion Buller on Power & Politics
The investigation was submitted last month but ended the last public on Friday, when Bennett extended six months.
During this time, the investigation was heard by nearly 1,500 family members over 15 hearings in the community.
However, the Commissioners, led by the former B.C. Judge Marion Buller, declined the move by the liberal government to limit the extension of the deadline – accusing the government of trying to master the report in a timeframe that is in line with the election schedule.
The final report of the investigation is expected in April 2019. The meetings will take place next autumn.
I think that we did the best, which allowed us to continue the research perspective by December 31, and then give them additional time to write the report.– Minister for Crown and Autochthon Relations Carolyn Bennett
In an interview with Aboriginal People's Television in October, Buller said that Ottawa refuses to further expand the investigation was "a terrible disappointment".
"I'm trying to think of polite words to use them, but a terrible disappointment not only with us, but indigenous people and non-autochthonous people across Canada," Buller said.
"We consider this issue or the issue of violence against women and girls of indigenous people as being so serious and so important for all Canadian citizens that we should spend the electoral cycle."
Buller repeated these criticisms in an interview with CBC Power and politics On Friday, he said that the final report lacks some of the "breadths and depths" that Commissioners have hoped to include in their final report from the outset because of the limited time frame and other restrictions imposed by the government.
On Friday, Bennett said that the government's first priority is to timely report to families who lost their loved ones and those who have been asking for a search for several years.
She said that the government settled with a compromise because it allowed more time, while rejecting the request for another two years.
"I think that we have done everything we can to continue the investigation until December 31, and then give them more time to write the report," said Bennett in an interview with CBC News.
"The families were very clear. They did not want it to last forever. They wanted something in place."
Bennett also warned that this was the first true national inquiry in which all provinces and territories issued decisions to confer on the commissioners the powers of public prosecutors to, for example, require the submission of relevant documents to the police.
A further extension of the timeframe could have led to some provinces and territories withdrawing further support for the investigation, Bennett said.
Bennett said she hopes that after the end of the investigation, the whole country will better understand the colonial traumas that patriotic generations were hit by autochthonous women – a traumatic woman who in often dangerous situations was often placed by autochthonous women.
She said that the disproportionate number of domestic women's violence had been linked to the nasty history of the Indian school system of schools, the sixties, in the system of foster care and the current difficult situation of provincial children and family services.
"People who are hurt, they hurt people. It's about what happens when people are hurt like children," Bennett said.
"I think that we have realized that in all our institutions all things, shelters, education and all the things we have talked about for a long time, child and family services, racism and sexism … the commission is really facing the ugly part of the divide that there is in Canada, "said Bennett.
Buller said the final report will offer practical recommendations that will be "helpful" with firm government plans for implementation.
"Families and survivors will not let the government ignore our recommendations, they will keep their feet in the fire," Buller said.
And yet, Bennett said, Ottawa does not wait for commissioners to finalize their final report in order to carry out some fundamental reforms that it believes could help prevent violence against indigenous women and girls.
"Even before the interim report, we have dealt with some of these things that were shown to us in pre-election meetings," Bennett said.
First, the government is moving forward with a plan for a thorough reform of indigenous child protection systems in that country, the minister said.
Bennett has repeatedly warned of the sad state of well-being of children in his interview with CBC News – condemns the system, which often gives priority to the arrest of children who need care for preventive measures. She said that the child welfare system is truly "the basis" of so many social issues.
While only 7.7 percent of all children under the age of 14 are indigenous, 52.2 percent of all children are foster children.
"This is a vulnerable vulnerability. The investigation is about putting in place concrete measures to stop this horror of the tragedy – and we will have to do it," Bennett said.
Minister of Indigenous Services Jane Philpott announced earlier this month that the federal government will eventually hand over the provision of childcare services to individual first nations in an effort to reduce the number of indigenous children in foster care.
Ottawa is working with indigenous partners to "co-shape" federal legislation that will begin the process of transforming authority from people from nations, Inuit and Métis, to take care of their children who need foster care.
This is a departure from the functioning of the current system, which often leaves most indigenous children living in provincial child protection systems that critics say ignore their unique cultural needs.
In addition to child welfare reforms, Bennett also indicated the creation of a special unit in the RCMP for the development of best practices and the changing culture of the police as an important development resulting from the investigation process.