B.C. missing women inquiry to hold community forums in Vancouver, Prince George

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      Update (November 23): The Vancouver forum has been rescheduled to January 19, 2011, from 4 to 7 p.m. The Prince George forum will take place on January 21.

      B.C.’s missing-women inquiry plans to hold what it’s calling community engagement forums ahead of the formal hearings expected to begin early next year.

      Commissioner Wally Oppal announced today (November 2) that the inquiry will put on one public forum in Vancouver and another in Prince George to give B.C. residents a chance to speak about the impact of the cases of the missing and murdered women.

      In a press release, the former B.C. attorney general said he will use the forums to explain the role of the inquiry, clarify its terms of reference, and obtain community input on procedural matters.

      “In seeking input from the community, I not only hope to encourage feedback that can be realistically covered within the Commission’s mandate, but also find ways to deal with issues that are raised and that are plainly outside of the scope of the Commission’s work,” Oppal stated in the release.

      The first community engagement forum will take place at the Vancouver Japanese Language School (487 Alexander Street) on December 6 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

      The commission is accepting applications for standing to participate in its evidentiary hearings until November 30.

      According to its terms of reference, the commission is mandated to make findings of fact regarding the conduct of the missing-women investigations between 1997 and 2002, as well as the Criminal Justice Branch’s 1998 decision to stay charges of attempted murder, assault with a weapon, forcible confinement, and aggravated assault against serial killer Robert Pickton.

      Its final report is expected to be submitted to the provincial government by December 31, 2011.

      You can follow Stephen Hui on Twitter at twitter.com/stephenhui.