AMC Respond to Announcement on the National Inquiry into MMIW

National Roundtable in Ottawa has brought together people to share and plan how to prevent more missing and murdered women
National Roundtable in Ottawa has brought together people to share and plan how to prevent more missing and murdered women

WINNIPEG – TERRITORY ONE – Acting Grand Chief of the Assembly of  Manitoba Chiefs (AMC), Chief Cathy Merrick of Pimicikimak Cree Nation, is pleased with that a national inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) has finally been established. She is also encouraged by the Terms of Reference, which marks the beginning of an important healing journey.

The AMC has preliminarily reviewed the Terms of Reference and compared them to the recommendations put forward in the AMC Chiefs-in-Assembly endorsed Report Families First – a made in Manitoba approach to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

The Families  First Report and Initiative were created based on what AMC heard from families, Elders, youth, service provides and communities of MMIWG about the types of actions and process needed to address the tragedy of MMIWG and prevent future crimes. It proposes both tangible immediate and long-term systemic solutions to addressing MMIWG through four main areas of work:

  • Honouring Loved Ones;
  • Immediate Actions;
  • Public Policy Research on Systemic Long Term Issues; and
  • Family Answers

The AMC notes that a number of the elements proposed in the Terms of Reference are reflective of what was said in the Families First Report.

Western Worldview Laws not Indigenous World View Laws

However, AMC is concerned that the National Inquiry is defined by Western worldview laws and may not reflect Indigenous worldviews and laws. As stated by Acting Grand Chief Merrick, “We know that there is a direct link between what is happening to our women and girls today and the loss of cultural identities. The Inquiry must provide an opportunity for us to celebrate our Indigenous ways of knowing and provide equal weight to Indigenous legal traditions.”  Based on AMC’s review of the Terms of Reference, this important element is missing.

The Terms of Reference also states that it will provide opportunities for individuals and families to share their experiences and views about MMIWG. The AMC requires assurance that all families and individuals who wish to share their stories and honour their loved ones will be provided the opportunity to do so. Acting Grand Chief Cathy Merrick said, “We must empower families to tell their own stories because every family deserves to have their own case heard.” The AMC hopes that the rules of  standing for the Inquiry will be interpreted broadly and that the participation of families and individuals will not be dependent upon their representation by lawyers.

According to the Terms of Reference, the Inquiry will examine systemic causes behind violence against Indigenous women and girls. Acting Grand Chief Merrick said, “We hope that the systemic review of underlying causes will examine the interrelated causes of violence, including an examination of the child welfare system, policing and justice issues as well as poverty.” Clarification by the Federal Government that the mandate of the Inquiry includes these broader systemic issues is required.

“Families have expressed significant concerns that the Inquiry process will be too lengthy and costly. Based on what we heard and our review of existing recommendations, we know there are many immediate actions that have already been identified to address the tragedy of MMIWG” observed Acting Grand Chief Merrick.

Acting Grand Chief Merrick concluded, “the Federal Government should assure families that it will act immediately to support Indigenous women and girls. They have waited long enough. I appeal to the new Commissioners to be guided by the seven teachings of respect, love, truth, honesty, wisdom, humility and courage. We hope that the Commissioners will be brave enough to tell the truth and that the Commission’s approach to honour loved ones is meaningful, respectful and lasting.”

Previous articleNor’Wester Mountain Protection Group Seeks Update from City
Next articleWeather Warnings and Alerts – Northwestern Ontario – August 4 2016 or NNL offers news, information, opinions and positive ideas for Thunder Bay, Ontario, Northwestern Ontario and the world. NNL covers a large region of Ontario, but we are also widely read around the country and the world. To reach us by email: Reach the Newsroom: (807) 355-1862