Inquiry design meeting #16: February 10-11, 2016, Edmonton, Alberta

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls held its sixteenth engagement meeting in Edmonton, on Wednesday and Thursday, February 10-11, 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.

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Overview

The engagement meeting was held over two days. The first day was a preparation day for participants with an orientation session and a sharing circle where survivors, families and loved ones shared their personal stories associated with violence against Indigenous women and girls.

The second day was dedicated to how the Inquiry should be designed. The day opened with a prayer from an Elder followed by a prayer song. A welcoming speech from the Minister followed. Participants acknowledged and honoured the women and girls who were murdered and who are still missing.

The Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs heard directly from participants about the effects of violence on the survivors, the families of victims and their communities.

Participants in the Edmonton session discussed their desire for those most directly impacted by violence to play a key role in an inquiry and to have their needs met throughout the process.

The day closed with a prayer from an Elder and words of hope from the other officiating elders. A presentation of a gifts to the Elders occurred and a gifting of moccasins to the Minister. A thank-you and closing speech from the Minister followed and an honour song closed the meeting.

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:

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

The Edmonton meeting was attended by over 240 survivors, family members and loved ones from Indigenous communities in the province. Four Elders were present to provide a safe and supportive environment for discussions. To ensure the well-being of participants, health support workers, including Indigenous elders, from Health Canada were available at the meetings and over-night to provide additional cultural and emotional support.

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 in all aspects of the inquiry.

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 including:

In general, the participants agreed that solving the problem of violence will be a long-term process and will require building trust among Indigenous communities and the police and justice systems. As time passes, attention should continue to focus on the needs and concerns of survivors, families and loved ones.

Support and cultural practices

Participants outlined 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.

Recommendations about how to include cultural practices and ceremony include:

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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