OTTAWA – Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Status of Women, issued the following statement following a meeting in Ottawa on setting the course for a National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls:
“Over the past three months, as part of the pre-inquiry design process, we have been privileged to travel across the country to meet with and listen to survivors, families and loved ones. We have also heard from representatives of front-line services and Indigenous organizations.
We have been profoundly touched by the stories we have heard from family members, and loved ones who have been directly affected by these tragic deaths and disappearances. We have also been moved by the stories of those who have experienced and survived extreme violence. It is clear to us that these tragedies take an immeasurable toll on these individuals, their families and their communities. Many are trying to honour the spirit of their loved ones by seeking changes to end this violence.
We have heard a wide range of voices and views on who should conduct the inquiry, the length of the inquiry, who should participate and the scope of the work and how best to reflect Indigenous culture and ceremony. As well we heard about other needs beyond the Inquiry, including healing. The views and ideas expressed by all participants are helping us design an inquiry that both examines the causes of violence against Indigenous women and girls and leads to recommendations for concrete actions to prevent future violence.
The level of engagement across Canada has been very encouraging. Our heartfelt gratitude to nearly 2000 individuals who participated in the 18 pre-inquiry design meetings that were held from coast to coast to coast. Thousands of people are still engaging on social media or are visiting the inquiry website to provide their input via an online survey. The level of engagement clearly demonstrates that Canadians are answering the call for action to address violence against Indigenous women and girls.
Although the meetings have ended, we encourage Canadians to continue to provide their input to help us identify the best process for this inquiry. The online survey will be available until February 22, 2016. Submissions by phone, email or regular mail will be accepted until February 28, 2016.
Our government is committed to real and substantive reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples in this country, and the inquiry is an important step on this path to end the unacceptable rates of violence against Indigenous women and girls.
In the coming months, we will be announcing details of the inquiry, and on how the inquiry will contribute to the Government’s commitment to reconciliation and a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous peoples in Canada. We are determined to do this right for the survivors, families and loved ones, to honour the spirits and memories of those we have lost, and to protect future generations.
Real change will require commitment and participation from all levels of government, National Aboriginal and other organizations, front-line service providers, communities and individuals working to a better future for Indigenous peoples in our country.”