City council sent a short letter last week to the public inquiry that is investigating the disappearances of women in BC and along the Highway of Tears.
This is the only official interaction the City has had with the inquiry because no one from council showed up for the hearing when it was in Prince Rupert several weeks ago.
“We have sent a letter with some suggestions on how the matter could be brought to the forefront,” said mayor Jack Mussallem.
The letter itself is very small, only two paragraphs long:
“On behalf of Prince Rupert City Council, we urge the Provincial Government to put more resources into providing education and awareness to assist women in avoiding situations where they become victims of violence. By making all women more aware of the consequences of taking part in risky activities such as hitchhiking and leaving drinks unattended in a bar, will help reduce the amount of women who go missing or end up in a violent situation,” reads the letter.
“One in three women will experience violence in her lifetime. Those stats can change; the Provincial Government need to provide resources to properly serve the increasing number of women who seek the help of and are using anti-violence programs.”
The commission in charge of the investigation into the missing women – which is headed by former Attorney General, Wally Oppal – kicked off its hearings in Prince Rupert. Representatives from many different community organizations came to give their input on how best to deal with the problem which has plagued the Highway 16 and Vancouver’s downtown east side for decades.
No one from the city council came to the Prince Rupert hearing, something that was not lost of Commissioner Oppal during his visit.
“What I am cornered to see that your the mayor is not here. It’s their community, it’s important for them to be here to help represent it,” said Oppal, after the hearing had ended.
Mayor Jack Mussallem says he was out of town when the hearings were taking place.
“I was out of town on City business, I was aware that there was a meeting,” said Mussallem.
Other members on the council weren’t sure an invitation to attend was sent to the City. During the commission hearing one of the organizers for the hearings admitted that she may not have advertised the fact they were coming very well.
It appears that council has determined that city staff may have dropped the ball in this case.
“It’s not very often that the city misses an opportunity like this, but in this case it was missed inadvertently by the staff,” said mayor Mussallem.
“But there is an opportunity to send letters and we’ve done that.”