Statement by Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs

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Hon. Carolyn Bennett:Thank you, Minister Hajdu and Minister Wilson-Raybould. I think we are we have the honour to carry the eagle feathers that were gifted to us yesterday at the special ceremony conducted by Elder Commanda, and we're honoured to have Elder Commanda with us again today on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people.

I'm also honoured to have so many parliamentary colleagues gathered here with us in the Foyer and so many family members as well as organizations that have been working so hard to achieve justice, but mainly the prevention of this happening to other people, and we're very grateful for that.

Comme mes collègues ici, j'ai été profondément émue par les récits de violence et disparition racontés par les familles, les proches et autres personnes au cours des jours m'ont parlé des répercussions que cette violence et ces disparitions ont émis (ph) dans leur vie et de comment les abus, la négligence et les méfaits continuent à se produire dans leur communauté. Ces histoires dévoilent aux Canadiens la triste réalité à laquelle doivent faire face les femmes et les filles autochtones.

Their stories have shed light in dark corners. They have begun to show Canadians the reality faced by indigenous women and girls, two-spirited and trans-gendered sisters. They are stories of the lives we have lost too soon, but they also represent not only the tragedies, but the resilience, spirit and voice of indigenous women and girls, their families and communities. They are a reminder of the walk we must take together.

L'annonce aujourd'hui se faisait attendre depuis longtemps. Comme l'a souligné la ministre Wilson-Raybould, au cours de la dernière décennie, un grand nombre de voix s'est élevé pour demander qu'une enquête soit menée. Nous avons aussi lu de nombreux rapports qui soulignaient la nécessité d'en savoir plus, que ce soit l'Amnistie Internationale, l'Association des femmes autochtones du Canada, la Gendarmerie royale du Canada, et plus récemment, Statistique Canada.

La nécessité d'entreprendre une enquête nationale est évidente. C'est une priorité pour moi, mes collègues et pour le gouvernement.

This is an opinion shared by many families, indigenous leaders, victims' advocates, domestic and international groups and all the premiers. Over the coming weeks, our aim is to hear from as many people as possible. As my colleague the Minister of Justice noted, we are now entering the first phase of the inquiry process, which we call a design phase.

Comme l'a mentionné ma collègue la ministre de la Justice, nous rentrons maintenant dans la première phase du processus d'enquête que nous appelons la phase de conception. Les trois ministres présents aujourd'hui prendront part à la conception de l'enquête.

All three ministers present today will participate in the design of the inquiry. This phase is about setting the tone for a collaborative, inclusive process.

Tout ce que nous entendrons nous aiderait à déterminer les objectifs, la portée et les paramètres de l'enquête.

All of what we will hear will help us determine the objectives, the scope and the parameters of the inquiry. It will also help identify potential terms of reference for the inquiry, outline the possible activities and participants and potentially help identify the commissioners. We want to know how the families will remain involved and the role that ceremonies can and should play as we go forward.

Canadians can also play a role. For that reason, there will be an online component to this process. This will include a website that includes background information that can help all Canadians better understand this issue. It will also include an online survey and discussion guide available in the coming weeks. The discussion guide will help focus meetings by highlighting important elements and key questions about the inquiry's design. The online survey echoes three these questions and will provide access to all concerned Canadians.

The discussion guide will also be mailed out to many communities and organizations. We will update the website regularly with summaries of what we are hearing and where meetings will be held. I have also encourage all Canadians to join the conversation via social media using the hashtags #MMIW and #OurInquiry.

J'encourage les Canadiens à se joindre à la conversation dans les médias sociaux en utilisant le mot clique #FemmesAutochtones.

Elder Commanda pointed out Christi Belcourt's powerful stained glass window here in the Centre Block just behind the Christmas tree there, but over the members' entrance. It tells a story from the bottom left corner of the glass and up and over to the bottom right about looking ahead in hope, strength and resilience. The middle right panel contains the words, I love you, my child, written in Cree, Inuktitut, Anishnaabemowin, and Mi'kmaq. The child's grandfather sings a traditional song, signifying the restoration of songs, dance, ceremonies and language.

We are looking ahead to this brighter future.

Nous regardons tous devant pour un avenir meilleur. Comme le ministre Hajdu l'a fait remarquer, c'est là une question qui touche tous les Canadiens. Il s'agit de ce que nous pouvons tous faire pour prévenir la violence, accroître la sensibilisation à l'égard des disparités et progresser sur la voie de la réconciliation.

This is about what we can all do to prevent violence, to raise awareness without disparities, about all of the disparities and to move us forward on the path to reconciliation.

Les Canadiens prennent soin l'un des autres et cela est le reflet de notre société. Nous ferons un bon travail pour honorer l'esprit et la mémoire de celles que nous avons perdues.

We will get this right for the spirits and the memories of those we have lost
Thank you. Merci. Miigwetch. (Text in native languages.)

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