Inquiry design meeting #11: January 28-29, 2016, Iqaluit, Nunavut

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls held its eleventh engagement meeting in Iqaluit, Nunavut, on Thursday and Friday, January 28-29, 2016. This pre-inquiry meeting included survivors, families and loved ones. Their experiences, views and contributions will contribute to the design of 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 Iqaluit engagement session took place over a two day period. On the first day, participants registered and were invited to attend an orientation session. On the second day, the Minister took part in a sharing circle with participants and engaged in discussions about how to best design an inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

Ceremony and tradition are vital parts of Northern life and participants stressed the importance of including these practices at the beginning and end of every meeting. On the first day, an Inuit Elder was present at the sessions to offer spiritual counsel. On the second day, an Inuit Elder began the day in a healing way by lighting a qulliq lamp and explaining the history and significance of the qulliq as a source of heat and light, as well as a cooking implement, for the Inuit. This was followed by children from the community performing traditional Inuit throat singing. The day was then opened with a prayer. At the end of the day, a local children's choir performed traditional Inuit singing, dancing and drumming for the participants. This was seen as critical to the healing process, as it helped to lift the spirits of participants after a challenging day of sharing stories and recommendations.

The unique perspective and needs of Inuit in an inquiry was raised many times. Inuit have a culture and traditional way of life which is vastly different from other First Peoples in Canada and an inquiry must respect their differences and include their unique cultural elements as part of the process. In particular, remoteness, isolation, language, inter-generational trauma and harm were raised as issues which will impact an Inquiry differently. The small, remote nature of many Northern communities will require a greater focus on community support and healing, in order to stop the violence and disappearance in communities, heal and move forward from the past.

Who attended

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

Officials from the department were present throughout the day.

The Iqaluit meeting was attended by over 50 survivors, family members, and loved ones from Inuit communities from Nunavut and Nunavik (northern Quebec). Elders and health support workers were also present to provide counsel and create a supportive environment for discussions.

Leadership and participation

Participants were asked who should lead and participate in an Inquiry. Survivors, families and loved ones indicated that an inquiry should be led by:

Survivors, families and loved ones indicated that an inquiry should include participation from:

Participants described accessibility issues which must be addressed to ensure survivors, families and loved ones' participation in an inquiry, including:

Priorities and key issues

Participants identified issues the inquiry must address in order to achieve concrete recommendations, including:

In particular, participants stressed the need to formulate recommendations for specific action as part of an Inquiry which address:

Support and cultural practices

Participants stressed the need to include traditional Inuit practices and ceremony in the inquiry process. Recommendations for ceremonial and cultural practices included:

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 included:

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