Inquiry design meeting #17: February 11-12, 2016, Calgary, Alberta

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls held its seventeenth engagement meeting in Calgary, on Thursday and Friday, February 11-12, 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 wise words from an Elder, drummers, and an Honour Song. Welcoming speeches from the Ministers followed. An empty chair was set to acknowledge and honour the women and girls who were murdered and who are still missing. Some families placed pictures and of their loved ones on a table next to the empty chair. Prayers were also offered for those most affected by these tragedies. 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.

The Minister of Status of Women and the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs listened to the effects of violence on the survivors, the families of victims, and their communities. The Minister of Veterans Affairs also met the families in the morning to hear their stories.

Participants in the Calgary 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 words of hope, a prayer by an Elder and The Women's Warrior Song.

Who attended

Survivors, families and loved ones of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls attended the pre-inquiry meeting with their supporters.  Also in attendance were:

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

The Calgary meeting was attended by over 230 survivors, family members and loved ones from Indigenous communities in the province. Elders and health support workers were also present to provide a safe and supportive environment for discussions.

Leadership and participation

Participants were asked who should lead the Inquiry and provided some of the following feedback:

Participants also identified which groups should be given the opportunity to take part in the inquiry:

Participants stressed the importance of involving survivors, families and loved ones. To make this possible, participants said the inquiry must:

Priorities and key issues

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

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. It should be mandatory that all Canadian citizens be educated on the true history of First Nations in Canada.

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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