Arguments will begin this morning in Court of Queen’s Bench in Regina to certify a class-action lawsuit over Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
Regina Lawyer Tony Merchant is representing the plaintiffs.
Diane Bigeagle, of the Ocean Man First Nation is seeking $600 million in damages for families who lost loved ones.
The statement of claim filed in 2018 alleges systemic negligence by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for its investigations of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and that impacted families suffered mental harm from the investigative approach of the RCMP.
Danita Bigeagle is one of 1200 known MMIWG cases, yet families and others believe that number could be in the thousands.
“The prod that we are now pursuing with this lawsuit is issues particularly related to the RCMP and issues particularly related to compensation to families who were wronged,” Merchant said.
The federal government has not filed a statement of defense, which puzzles Merchant as to why it is fighting the class-action certification.
He explained that Ottawa has not taken significant action to implement or address the recommendations contained in the MMIW National Inquiry Final Report.
“They don’t have a sense that anything is being done, and really nothing is being done,” Merchant said. “This is a government that is favourable about Indigenous issues and has been responsive on compensation and recognizing the wrongs from the past. But it seems they’re stuck in glacial mode over the murdered and missing inquiry. So, what they should have really been doing is these are the recommendations and we’re going to do something about them.”
The certification hearing is scheduled for five-days.