Inquiry design meeting #6: January 12-13, 2016, Vancouver, British Columbia

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls held its sixth engagement meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, January 12-13, 2016. This pre-inquiry meeting included survivors, families and loved ones and front-line organizations. Their experiences, views and contributions will help design the inquiry.

A summary of the meeting is provided below. The summary is not a complete account of the discussions. Instead, it highlights the key themes that emerged from this engagement meeting. Read a copy of the discussion guide used at this meeting or complete the on-line survey to share your own views.

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Overview

The engagement meeting was held over two days with the first day being a preparation day.

Elders arrived and prepared the space for the first day which comprised a registration and orientation session where survivors, families and loved ones shared their personal stories associated with violence against Indigenous women and girls. The effects of this violence were discussed as well as the journey towards healing by survivors, family members and loved ones.

The second day was dedicated to how the inquiry should be designed. The day opened and closed with traditional ceremonies consisting of a blanket ceremony, drumming, prayers and singing. Those in attendance acknowledged and honoured the women and girls who were murdered and who are still missing.

The Minister of Justice, the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs and the Minister of Status of Women heard about the effects of violence on the families of victims and their communities and of Indigenous women who had experienced violence and survived.

Participants in the Vancouver session stressed the importance of making sure that families, loved ones and survivors and front-line organizations are involved throughout the design of the Inquiry.

Who attended

Survivors, families and loved ones of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls attended the pre-inquiry meeting.  There were also a number of representatives of front-line organizations. Also in attendance were:

Officials from Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Justice and Status of Women were present throughout the day.

Close to 150 survivors, family members and loved ones and representatives from front-line organizations participated from several Indigenous communities. Elders and health support workers were also present to provide a safe and supportive environment for discussions.

Leadership and participation

Two questions were asked about who should lead and who should take part in the inquiry.  The views on leadership included the need to have:

Participants also identified which groups should have a chance to take part in the inquiry:

Participants stressed the importance of involving survivors, families and loved ones, and to do so by visiting their communities. In meeting with families, participants indicated the inquiry must provide:

Priorities and key issues

Participants identified the issues the inquiry must address if it is to produce recommendations for specific actions. These issues include:

Participants want the Inquiry's final report to include recommendations for specific actions that can be implemented including:

In general, the participants agreed that addressing these complex issues will be a long-term process, and that all of the stakeholders involved will need to work together. They also stressed the need for actions now to prevent violence as well as protect and enhance the safety of Indigenous women. Participants also indicated that it will be important to establish indicators of success, so that efforts can be assessed in the future.

Support and cultural practices

Participants stressed the need to include traditional practices and ceremonies in the Inquiry process.

The inquiry must also include healing processes to acknowledge and address the trauma felt by those affected and support healing of the "heart and mind". Participants stressed it will be important to provide support for families throughout the process, and to recognize that families are at different levels of readiness to participate in the Inquiry process and will need different kinds of support.

Recommendations about how to include cultural practices and ceremony include:

Participants also suggested information sessions be held for families so that they fully understand the Inquiry process and their role in it.

Additional comments

As well as discussing the questions listed in the discussion guide, participants were invited to share other comments and views on the design of the inquiry.  These include:

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