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. The commission is in the process of hiring staff and setting up an office in Vancouver. For information about its powers, mandate, approach, and commissioners, see Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.

The Moderator has expressed the church’s prayerful support for the commission’s difficult work ahead.

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.

Take Action

  • 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 will be posted by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada as soon as it is available.
  • Participate in a vigil
  • Pray
    • Pray for families and communities affected. You can use or adapt the following Prayer for Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women (under Downloads, below).
    • Nikki Shawana—Sister Round Dance Song (MMIW Honour Song)
  • Spread the word
    • Tell people why this issue is so important to you and to all Canadians. Call on others to add their support.
    • Connect with the National Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) on Facebook and Twitter. Use the hashtag #MMIW or #MMIWG.

Learn More about the Issues

Books, Films, and Video Clips

Background

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 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.

The commission is directed to

  • make recommendations on concrete actions to remove systemic causes of violence and increase the safety of Indigenous women and girls in Canada
  • make recommendations on ways to honour and commemorate missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls
  • provide its recommendations to the Government of Canada through an interim report in fall 2017 and a final report by the end of 2018

For More Information:

Sara StrattonReconciliation and Indigenous Justice Animator1-800-268-3781 ext. 2742SStratton [at] united-church.ca