WINNIPEG – TREATY ONE – The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) supports the Manitoba families of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) and survivors in their call to be heard through an Indigenous designed and Indigenous led regional component of the National Inquiry, and a “hard reset” of the Inquiry that involves replacing the remaining Commissioners.
AMC Acting Grand Chief Norman Bone stated “The AMC supports the families of MMIWG and survivors in Manitoba. We heard in this morning’s press conference that families and survivors have completely lost confidence in the National Inquiry process because they are not being heard and have been left out. At the provincial level, the best way for families to be heard is for an Indigenous designed and Indigenous led process that ensures that their voices are heard, their loved ones are honoured, their questions are answered by key agencies, immediate actions are undertaken, and systemic research is conducted.”
Families of MMIWG and survivors made it clear that despite the numerous issues and challenges, the National Inquiry must take place. The existing National Inquiry process must be renewed by replacing remaining three Commissioners and Chief Commissioner; amending the Terms of to explicitly include policing; and creating the proposed Indigenous designed and Indigenous led process at the provincial level that will contribute to the National Inquiry.
A proposed Manitoba specific process can be developed through the existing Terms of Reference of the National Inquiry, and would respect Manitoba families of MMIWG and survivors, Indigenous legal customs, traditions and protocols. At a minimum, it should include:
- The honouring of loved ones – done through a variety of ways which would be chosen by families of MMIWG and survivors, acknowledging the sacredness of each.
- Immediate actions – there are many existing recommendations and reports. Commitments are required and money needs to be spent now to stop further.
- Family answers process – families have a lot of questions about their loved ones and their individual cases which require answers and accountability from agencies and departments such as the Justice System, Winnipeg Police Service, the RCMP and Child and Family Services. A process must be created to address these.
- Research into systemic long term issues – there are systemic issues which perpetuate violence against Indigenous women and girls which must be researched and recommendations are required to address these.
Chief Francine Meeches, Chairperson of the AMC First Nations Women’s Committee stated “the approach of the families of MMIWG and survivors is consistent with the current approach identified by the Chiefs in Assembly to put families first. We recognize that families and survivors are hurt and require immediate action to prevent more violence. The Manitoba families of MMIWG and survivors are resilient and strong and an Indigenous designed and led process is required for them to be heard.”