The mandate of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls is 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.
As of October 2017, the National Inquiry has heard testimony from survivors and families in Whitehorse, YT, Smithers, BC, Winnipeg, MB, and Membertou, NS. On November 1, 2017, the National Inquiry submitted its Interim Report (available on the MMIWG website) outlining the following recommendations:
- Implement the Calls to Action of the TRC, particularly those impacting women and children. Jordan’s principle and full implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People are named specifically.
- Comply with the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling (2016) that Canada has racially discriminated against First Nations children.
- Provide information of those who participated in pre-Inquiry hearings to the National Inquiry or provide those people with process information on how to participate in the National Inquiry.
- Provide federal, provincial, and territorial project funding in addition to regular operational funding to allow meaningful participation of Indigenous organizations in the Inquiry.
- Establish a commemoration fund (federally funded, in collaboration with national and regional Indigenous organizations and in partnership with family organizations, Indigenous artists, and grassroots activists).
- Provide increased federal funding to Health Canada’s Resolution Health Support Program and expand its services to meet the increased need created by the Inquiry.
- Enable Health Canada’s Resolution Health Support Program to fund Indigenous organizations and other service providers to provide necessary health supports to families and survivors participating in the National Inquiry and commemoration projects.
- Establish an engagement process among government, families, survivors, Indigenous organizations, and the National Inquiry to investigate the feasibility of restoring the Aboriginal Healing Foundation.
- Work collaboratively at federal, provincial, and territorial levels to create a national police task force to which the National Inquiry could refer families or survivors to assess/reopen cases and investigations.
- Provide alternatives and options to federal administrative rules to allow the National Inquiry to fulfill the terms of its mandate, given the short timeframe now provided.
In hearing from our global partners and grassroots advocates as well as from reports in the news, we have learned that survivors and families need additional emotional and spiritual support, especially once the National Inquiry moves on from their particular area. Now, more than ever, we need to reach out to Indigenous organizations and grassroots partners to lead the way in supporting the survivors and families who are providing testimony at the Community Hearings across Canada.
As members of the Aboriginal Ministries Council, staff, and allies, we are committed to supporting the survivors and families by attending the upcoming Community Hearings to provide our prayerful support and witness the strengths and challenges of the survivors and families. We have also begun to reach out to Indigenous agencies/grassroots groups and non-Indigenous allies/networks to provide as much support to the survivors and families at each Community Hearing. These hearings are being livestreamed; link from the MMIWG website.
Furthermore, we will 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 will continue to pray for the survivors and families of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. We will 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. For more information, please visit our call for action, Justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and read the following blogs:
- Uplifting the Families at the Edmonton Inquiry
- Sharing Tears at the Thunder Bay Inquiry
- Confronting Injustice at the Quebec Inquiry
Support for families is available in Ontario. If you are a family member of an Indigenous woman or girl who is missing or has been murdered, you can find support at one of Ontario’s Family Information Liaison Units (FILUs). FILU staff can provide access to supports and information about court proceedings and police investigations.