The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls is underway, with a mandate to hear the voices of survivors and families in order to learn the truth and find solutions to end the alarming rates of violence against Indigenous women and girls. It is also to understand why Indigenous women and girls go missing or murdered in disproportionate rates. This level of violence and injustice is unacceptable. For information about its powers, mandate, approach, and commissioners, see the MMIWG website.
The Aboriginal Ministries Council is committed to supporting the survivors and families by attending the upcoming Community Hearings to provide our prayerful support and witness their strengths and challenges. We continue to advocate for a culturally appropriate, trauma-informed inquiry that address the structural roots of violence against Indigenous women and girls within a human rights framework. We continue to pray for the survivors and families of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. We pray for their ongoing strength, guidance and protection. We invite all United Church communities of faith to attend and/or support Indigenous families and communities as they provide testimony at the National Inquiry into the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
The National Inquiry was begun in fall 2016; the Moderator expressed the church’s prayerful support for the commission’s difficult work ahead.
- Talk with your member of Parliament and local Indigenous organizations about inviting the National Inquiry to your area.
- Write to the commission asking them to ensure that investigation of law enforcement occurs during the inquiry. Contact information is on the MMIWG website.
- Participate in a vigil
- Find a Sisters in Spirit vigil in your area on October 4 and show your support. Check out locations of existing vigils, or register your own.
- Another appropriate date to hold a vigil would be December 6, the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women in Canada.
- Spread the word
Learn More about the Issues
- Review the community database documenting Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, It Starts with Us.
- Use resources from NWAC: Community Resource Guide: What Can I Do to Help the Families of Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women and Girls? is particularly useful for advocates, people assisting families, and educators.
- Access resources from Amnesty International: No More Stolen Sisters.
- View the United Church’s MMIWG webinar from May 2015.
Books, Films, and Video Clips
- Canada’s Missing Aboriginal Women, The Agenda with Steve Paikin
- How do we stop aboriginal women from disappearing? Beverley Jacobs at TEDxCalgary
- View Vice episodes on YouTube: Trawling Winnipeg’s Rivers for the Bodies of Unsolved Murder Cases; Searchers: Highway of Tears; A Family's Desperate Search for a Missing Woman Police Can't Find
- Kwe: Standing with Our Sisters: Dozens of writers and artists add their voice to a call for action
- Finding Dawn (NFB film): Illustrates the deep historical, social, and economic factors that contribute to the epidemic of violence against Indigenous women in this country.
- Highway of Tears: Available on Netflix
The United Church works to live out the promise to walk together in the Spirit of Christ. The Healing Fund helps address harms from the legacy of the residential schools. The Justice and Reconciliation Fund supports the gathering of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples to mend broken relationships. The church has also formed groups who are intentionally Living into Right Relations by engaging communities to walk side by side, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, and respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.
In early 2004, the United and Anglican Churches joined with the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) to launch the Sisters in Spirit campaign, raising concerns about elevated levels of violence against Aboriginal women. In 2005, the federal government established a $10 million fund to help Sisters in Spirit do research and education, and develop a database of missing and murdered Indigenous women and children. In 2010, the government transferred funding for the database to the RCMP, whose missing persons database, however, does not have a specific focus on Indigenous women.
There were many calls for a national public inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG). In May 2013, the United Church's General Secretary wrote the prime minister informing him of the United Church's support of the call by NWAC and the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) for a national inquiry, and urging him to act quickly to institute one. Church members were encouraged to write their representatives.
In June 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission issued 94 Calls to Actionincluding a call for a public inquiry regarding MMIWG. As a party to the Settlement Agreement with residential schools, the United Church seeks to live out these calls to action.
The United Church, at its 2015 General Council, adopted a resolution to support the call for an inquiry, and called on United Churches across the country to remember murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG) in prayer and for members of the United Church to participate in vigils held by Sisters in Spirit on October 4.
The newly elected Liberal government in October 2015 had campaigned on a promise to hold a public inquiry regarding MMIWG. In early December 2015, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, and Status of Women Minister Patricia Hajdu revealed the details of a pre-inquiry consultation. The Government of Canada conducted an online survey and 18 inquiry design meetings with stakeholders across Canada from December 2015 to February 2016. To learn what they heard, read the meeting and summary reports on the Government of Canada site.
On August 3, 2016, the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada announced the establishment of a five-person commission to conduct a National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, to begin work September 1, 2016.
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