Executive summary of what we heard: Final report of the pre-inquiry engagement process

On December 8, 2015, the Government of Canada launched a National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

As a first step, the government asked for ideas about the design and scope of the inquiry. It asked for the views of survivors, families and loved ones affected by the violence. It also asked for feedback from national Indigenous organizations and the provinces and territories.

This report summarizes what was heard during the pre-inquiry engagement process. It will also guide the government in developing the terms of reference for the inquiry.

Pre-inquiry design process

The Government of Canada received thousands of recommendations on how best to design the inquiry. The recommendations came through:

The face-to-face meetings provided the government a chance to hear directly from survivors, and families and loved ones of murdered or missing women and girls. Participants were provided with cultural, spiritual and religious support. Elders were also on hand to provide ceremony and counsel. Also, d health support workers were available to provide additional cultural and emotional support.

Summary of recommendations

The government asked specific questions about the goals, scope and format of the inquiry. The feedback is summarized here. For a detailed list of recommendations, consult Section 4, Summary of recommendations, in the full report.

1. Leadership, structure and scope of the inquiry

We heard that the inquiry should be independent, transparent and led by Indigenous women.  The leadership should represent Indigenous communities and regions. It should also have a timetable that is sensitive to the needs of survivors, families and loved ones. Efforts must be made to avoid a long, drawn-out and legal process.

2. Participation

We heard that the inquiry should include as many individuals and organizations as possible including survivors, families and loved ones, national Indigenous organizations, front-line workers, and Indigenous community leaders and organizations.  It should also respect different points of view.

3. Key issues and actions

We heard that the inquiry should take a broad approach to its analysis of the issues. It should look at the economic, cultural, political and social causes of violence against women, girls and trans and two-spirit people. It should also look at the causes of unequal and unjust treatment of Indigenous women, girls and trans and two-spirit people and recommend solutions to the causes of violence.

4. Cultural practices and supports

We heard that the inquiry should provide a variety of cultural, spiritual and religious supports and ceremonies. The ceremonies should reflect the diversity of all participants and regions and be supported by elders. As well, it will be critical to have professional mental health counselling and community-based health supports.  Professional and culturally-sensitive counselling will be needed if the inquiry is to be effective and avoid causing further trauma.

Conclusion

The pre-inquiry process has raised hopes for an inquiry that will recommend specific actions to end violence against Indigenous women, girls and trans and two-spirit people. It also offers an important step towards reconciliation, healing and addressing a long-standing national tragedy.

After hearing from so many, it is clear that Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and communities are looking for meaningful change and justice for victims and families.

As the Government of Canada, we share the commitment to making sure the inquiry gets all of this right, for the spirits and the memory of those we have lost, and to help prevent more tragedies.

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