Tag Archives: John Fox

Frustrated Families Vow to ‘Blockade’ Missing and Murdered Inquiry Hearings

Jocelyn Wabano-Iahtail, right, comforts Shirley Gunner, as John Fox looks on during a news conference regarding the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls national inquiry in Ottawa. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Father of murdered woman says inquiry is at a ‘crisis’ point

By John Paul Tasker, CBC News Posted: May 23, 2017

Some family members of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls are vowing to blockade meetings of the national inquiry to protest what they call a disastrous start.

“We are prepared to take blockades against this inquiry, if it goes through our communities we will be there, it doesn’t matter where,” John Fox told reporters Tuesday.

Fox said many families are “tired of the commissioners,” the people who are responsible for collecting testimony from families, and they are frustrated with the lack of familial support. Fox said calls to the 1-800 number are not returned and emails go unanswered by the bureaucrats staffing the inquiry’s office. He wants to ensure he can get on the list of speakers when the inquiry finally rolls through his town.

“What are we supposed to do? What other things can I do to get my name on there?” he asked.

Fox, the father of Cheyenne Marie Fox, a 20-year-old woman who died in Toronto in 2013, said the inquiry has unfairly placed the blame on families for cancelling scheduled meetings this summer rather than admit they were simply not prepared.

The inquiry has said it would go ahead with the first meeting in Whitehorse at the end of the month, but suspend others until the fall because many witnesses told them that they would be out on the land hunting, trapping and harvesting and would not have time to meet with commissioners. Fox said Tuesday that was nonsense.

“They took that little bit of information, somebody said it in passing, but now they paint all our families with that one big brush, but that’s not fair,” he said. “The harvesting and all of that other stuff, that’s always going to happen … we would be there.”

‘They can’t even get the race horse out of the gate.’– John Fox

Fox said Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett was able to hold pre-inquiry meetings throughout the country in a matter of months, but, nearly a year after the launch of the national inquiry, things remain largely at a standstill.

“Why can she pull off the pre-inquiry, and get all the statements in that short period of time? And this inquiry now … they don’t have an idea of what they’re going to do? All the money and expertise in front of them and they can’t even get the race horse out of the gate.”

(As of May 23, the inquiry has already spent roughly 10 per cent of its $53-million budget.)

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde also voiced his frustrations Tuesday. Bellegarde said he has invited the five MMIWG commissioners to meet with family members on three different occasions but was rejected.

“Clear communication and outreach to family members are essential to rebuild trust and ensure the national inquiry is a success,” Bellegarde said, adding the process must take a “families first” approach, based on respect for survivors and their loved ones.

Jocelyn Iahtail, who has long fought for a national inquiry, said many families have simply given up hope with the process so far because it has not respected Indigenous spirituality and language.

Jocelyn Iahtail, who has long fought for a national inquiry, said many have simply given up hope with the process so far because it has not respected Indigenous spirituality and language.

She said while Marion Buller, the chief commissioner, admitted last week some mistakes had been made, more needs to be done to regain the trust of many family members. Elders are trying to speak in their Indigenous languages but are simply not understood by record keepers, she said, and there is little respect paid to sacred instruments like the drum, fire ceremonies and tobacco.

“We cannot have our sacred stories yet again shelved like every other report has been shelved. We’ve had many family members state that it is running very much like the Indian residential school process when they were meeting with adjudicators. It is like a court process. We’ve been very consistent since the beginning that it has to be Indigenous knowledge-based.”

Iahtail said the commission has also been tight-fisted with money to help families travel to inquiry meetings, and has been reluctant to provide legal services to those in need.

Buller said Friday she understands frustration from families, but chalked up problems to poor communications.

“I don’t think it’s a matter of staff issues. It’s our fault for not communicating the tremendous work we have already accomplished.”

The commission has cycled through three directors of communications in 10 months, and has been plagued by complaints from family members about compressed timelines. The first interim report from the inquiry is due by November 2017.


Curve Lake Man Inviting All To Toronto Rally For Murdered And Missing Aboriginal Women

John Fox: Cheyenne Santa Marie Fox, 20, died in April 2013 when she fell from a Toronto condominium balcony. Police ruled her death a suicide. Her father John Fox claims his daughter was murdered. Todd Vandonk

John Fox: Cheyenne Santa Marie Fox, 20, died in April 2013 when she fell from a Toronto condominium balcony. Police ruled her death a suicide. Her father John Fox claims his daughter was murdered. Todd Vandonk

Peterborough This Week, By Lance Anderson

John Fox says too many women “are getting killed out there” including his daughter Cheyenne

PETERBOROUGH — John Fox is trying to rally together as many supporters from the Peterborough area he can for a day of action event in Toronto in May.

Mr. Fox, of Curve Lake, the father of the late Cheyenne Fox who died in Toronto in 2013, wants people to gather to shed light on missing and murdered aboriginal women.

“There are too many women getting killed out there and the government is not doing anything,” says Mr. Fox.

He believes his daughter Cheyenne, 20, was such a victim. Although Toronto police deemed her fall from a Toronto condominium building as suicide, he believes there is much more to the story.

He has filed a $14-million lawsuit against the Toronto Police Service and has been dogged in his resolve to get justice for his daughter. He believes Cheyenne was murdered. He also believes his daughter’s death might be connected to an alleged rape that occurred nine months prior.

READ MORE: Peterborough man suing Toronto Police for $14 million

Mr. Fox has also filed a $1-million lawsuit against Andhuyaun Inc. and a man he believes committed the sexual assault which led to post-traumatic psychological and physical harm. Mr. Fox also alleges Andhuyaun Inc. was reckless in the management of a Toronto women’s shelter where Ms Fox lived.

All allegations have not been proven in court.

READ MORE: Peterborough man suing women’s shelter for allegedly allowing rape

“I’m not concerned about the money, but there was an injustice here in the way our family was treated,” says Mr. Fox.

To take it a step further, Mr. Fox even asked the Office of the Chief Coroner to conduct an inquest into Cheyenne’s death. However, last summer, that request was denied based on evidence obtained during the police investigation.

Mr. Fox is now considering appealing the Office of the Chief Coroner’s decision.

“I’m ready for that now. I think the public needs to know,” says Mr. Fox.

In the meantime, Mr. Fox wants to be a champion for the many missing and murdered aboriginal women and children.

He is encouraging people to join him at Allan Gardens in Toronto on May 23 starting with a sunrise ceremony at 7 a.m. At 10 a.m. a sharing circle will be held for people to talk about their loved ones followed by a series of speakers discussing their individual stories at noon.

Mr. Fox says they have chosen Allan Gardens as the place to meet because of the many women who have died there.

If interested in joining Mr. Fox and other supporters on May 23, contact him at johnwikyfox@gmail.com or visit the Day Of Action-MMIWG, Child and Men Facebook page.

— with files from Todd Vandonk