I must state how disappointing it is that a number of political organizations are pulling out of the missing women's inquiry largely because, although they were granted standing, they were denied funding by the government.
The funding requests, one assumes, were so that these groups could hire researchers and pay lawyers. It also seems to me that the various groups should take up their case with the government, which is denying them funding. But to withdraw now from the commission hearings really concerns me.
Many of us will be appearing before the commission providing testimony, and we haven't asked for a penny. This commission of inquiry is to investigate what went wrong regarding the numerous disappearances and subsequent murders of countless women from the Downtown Eastside.
The commission is on a fact-finding mission regarding the disappearances, and hopefully will make recommendations so this type of violence can be prevented from happening again.
The commission, I believe, honours the missing and murdered women and ensures that there is some justice accorded to them after death. The women's voices will be heard via family and community members and this will ensure nothing gets swept under the carpet. Everything said will be part of the public record.
I question what is gained by the withdrawal of a number of groups from the commission hearings. This inquiry is supposed to be about the missing and murdered women—and these actions by a few groups striking out at the commission seems really misguided. In fact, if any of these groups have evidence, withholding this evidence seems really counterproductive to ensuring justice for the DTES women.
While others purport that these groups are there for political reasons, I would hate to think these groups are only willing to speak and give evidence provided they receive financial compensation. This seems, in fact, really callous. I'm terribly disappointed that any group would act in such a manner, which comes across as extremely exploitative regarding the circumstances and tragedies of missing and murdered women of the Downtown Eastside.
Jamie Lee Hamilton is a sex-trade activist who tried for many years to draw attention to the missing women in the Downtown Eastside.