OTTAWA – Out of respect for the families and communities of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) has resisted relaying information on behalf of the Inquiry. NWAC has been acting as an independent observer of the Inquiry since its official launch date on September 1st, 2017, and has released a report card detailing its progress. As time elapses, NWAC feels a responsibility to share vital information regarding how families may participate and what that participation may look like.
It is the primary concern of NWAC that those who wish to participate in the Inquiry are aware that they will not be contacted by the Inquiry without their permission. In order to extend an invitation to the Inquiry, communities have been directed to email the Inquiry at firstname.lastname@example.org or via PO Box 500, Station A, Vancouver, BC, V6C 2N3.
“The Inquiry has not clarified who is able to invite them to visit their communities, so I encourage all forms of community organizations, leadership, families, and individuals to reach out if they are able to take part,” urged NWAC Interim President Francyne D. Joe. “NWAC believes that the Inquiry will begin hearing testimonies in May of 2017 and that, given the short timeframe for that first portion of the Inquiry’s activities, northern, rural, and remote communities should extend the invitation as soon as possible so as to ensure their inclusion. Every story is important and each interested community would be wise to start discussing what supports they will need to participate and ideas for how their community wishes their MMIWG to be honoured.”
It’s expected that the Inquiry will visit communities for a week at a time, creating a space for ceremony and respectful engagement. The Commissioners will be present in teams of one or more, along with stenographers who will remain after the Commissioners depart. “It’s important that families know that they can decide how they wish to testify and that, if they are for any reason unable to speak during the Commissioners’ visit, they can still participate,” added Joe.
NWAC would also like to direct families who need emotional support to call the government-funded 24/7 toll-free crisis line at 1-844-413-6649, with the understanding that their support workers are independent of the Inquiry and won’t have any additional information about it. “The Inquiry has not released their intake process or how they will be applying a trauma-informed lens to their work,” informed Joe, “It is extremely important that no one feel alone or unable to share their feelings. Indigenous women are loved and valued.”