Inquiry will come to Northwest

  • May. 9, 2011 6:00 a.m.

The Missing Women Commission of Inquiry, currently investigating incidences of missing and murdered women on the Highway of Tears, may be visiting northern communities later next month.

The commission, established last fall by the provincial government, is headed up by Wally Oppal, who in a visit to Prince George earlier this year said he was “deeply moved” by what he heard.  There, he heard repeated requests for him to go further north of Prince George, to hear what other communities had to say on how they’ve been impacted.

“It served once again to underscore the true magnitude of the tragedy,” Oppal said of the P.G. conference.

Should he decide to visit northern communities, it would be around mid-June, and Oppal is asking anyone who would like to make a presentation to the commission (should their community be visited) to contact his office, providing their name, address, telephone number and email address as well as a brief summary of the subject of their presentation.

Interested persons can send their information to Robyn Kendall, Missing Women Commission of Inquiry, #1402 – 808 Nelson St., Vancouver, B.C., V6Z 2H2 or to rkendall@missingwomeninquiry.ca.

It was welcome news to Matilda Wilson, whose daughter Ramona went missing 17 years ago. It was presumed that she was hitchhiking, and for an agonizing 10 months Wilson waited, until the day Ramona’s body was found. To this day, she has no clue what happened.

“I pray every day that this will not happen again, in Smithers, in Telkwa, or anyplace,” Wilson said. “I would be so happy if they do get one going here, maybe it would solve one of the missing women from this area.”

Even if it’s not Ramona, she added. At least then one family will have closure; they will know what happened to their child, and why, and hold someone accountable.

“It was devastating,” Wilson said of the 10 month period where no sign of Ramona was found. “You cannot sleep, your days are never the same anymore and I always pray for these parents and relatives, every night I pray for them because it’s one of the most difficult situations to go through.”

Wilson was one of the families who spoke up, asking Oppal to host meetings in smaller, more remote, communities so he could truly understand what goes on in these communities; what it means for not just the family, but the residents, when someone goes missing.

The Wilson family is one of eight families represented by A. Cameron Ward, who was granted full participation on those families behalf in evidentiary hearings.

Oppal granted full participation to 10 applicants and limited participation to another eight. Full participants will be able to take part in all phases of the hearing, including the cross examination of witnesses, as well as making submissions to the hearing. All documents disclosed to the commission will be available for them as well.

Legal proceedings on behalf of the commission are expected to begin later this year.