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Commissioner Michelle Audette listens to family testimony at the opening day of hearings at the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Winnipeg on Oct. 16, 2017.John Woods/The Canadian Press

The Native Women's Association of Canada says it was "shocked" and "outraged" to learn that the federal inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls had lost its executive director – just the latest in a long line of delays and staff departures.

The association, which has long called for a commission to examine the root causes of violence toward Indigenous women, says families are enduring "very upsetting news" from the inquiry, on top of the personal tragedy of their lost loved ones.

The federally funded commission confirmed Thursday that Debbie Reid has quit her post as executive director, but declined to comment further on a personnel matter.

In a statement, the commission thanked Reid for her contributions and insisted its work would not be disrupted by the ensuing transition, which will see director of operations Calvin Wong step in as interim executive director.

Reid, a former special adviser to the Assembly of First Nations, took over from Michele Moreau in the role of executive director last October.

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett says she's worried ongoing turnover at the commission will "distract from the work at hand" but insists its independence is crucial and that the government won't interfere.

The inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women is calling for the creation of a national police force to address concerns from families. Chief commissioner Marion Buller says the inquiry has no police branch.

The Canadian Press