About the independent inquiry
Learn about the mandate, approach, and budget of the independent inquiry.
To learn more about the inquiry, or find out how to participate in or work for the inquiry, please visit the inquiry's website.
Powers of the commissioners for the independent inquiry
The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls is a public inquiry established under Part I of the federal Inquiries Act. The commission has also been established under respective provincial and territorial inquiries' legislation through Orders-in-Council. This gives the commission the ability to look into federal, provincial and territorial jurisdictions as a part of the inquiry.
The commission has the authority to determine how best to accomplish its mandate and make recommendations.
The Inquiries Act gives the commissioners powers to conduct the inquiry independently. The commissioners will have the power to:
- call any witnesses
- require witnesses to give evidence
- require the production of any document or item that they need relevant to their investigation
The commissioners are required to examine and report on the systemic causes behind the violence that Indigenous women and girls experience, and their greater vulnerability to violence, by looking for patterns and underlying factors that explain why higher levels of violence occur. The commissioners have been mandated to examine the underlying historical, social, economic, institutional and cultural factors that contribute to the violence.
The commission will examine practices, policies and institutions such as policing, child welfare, coroners and other government policies/ practices or social/economic conditions.
The commissioners, as part of their mandate, will examine and report on institutional policies and practices that have been put in place as a response to violence, including those that have been effective in reducing violence and increasing the safety of Indigenous women and girls.
Building on existing knowledge
The commissioners are directed to review and consider existing reports on violence against Indigenous women and girls, including:
- pre-inquiry submissions and data
- the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples
- the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Final Report
- Reports of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry (Oppal) (.pdf)
- the entire report can be found on British Columbia's website
- What their stories tell us: research findings from the Sisters in Spirit initiative (.pdf)
- Report of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
- Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women: A National Operational Overview, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (2014)
- the Report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in British Columbia
- Report of the House of Commons Special Committee on Violence Against Indigenous Women (2014)
The commission is directed to:
- recommend concrete actions to remove systemic causes of violence and increase the safety of Indigenous women and girls in Canada
- recommend ways to honour and commemorate missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls
- provide its recommendations to the Government of Canada through an interim report by November 1, 2017 and a final report by November 1, 2018
The commission is mandated to set up an inquiry process that, to the extent possible:
- is informal and trauma-informed, respecting the individuals, families and communities concerned
- respects the diverse cultural, linguistic and spiritual traditions of Indigenous peoples
- promotes and advances reconciliation
- contributes to public awareness about the causes and solutions for ending violence
- provides opportunities for individuals, families and community members to share their experiences and views, including their views on recommendations for increasing safety and preventing or eliminating violence
Experiences of families, loved ones and survivors
The experiences of families, loved ones and survivors can play a critical role in informing the commissioners about the conditions that contribute to violence against Indigenous women and girls and institutional responses. When the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls contact the inquiry for information and assistance with respect to matters such as ongoing or past investigations, prosecutions or inquests, the commissioners will refer family members to the responsible provincial or territorial authority, including victim services.
The Department of Justice Canada will provide $16.17 million to increase the number of culturally-responsive services for Indigenous victims and survivors of crime and to establish new Family Information Liaison Units (FILUs) in provincial and territorial victims' services offices to assist families and loved ones of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. These new units will help families to find the information they seek from various agencies and services (including police, prosecutors, social services, child protection services and coroners) and they will communicate this information to the families in a culturally-grounded and trauma-informed manner. The FILUs and additional culturally-responsive services for families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls form complementary supports that run parallel to the inquiry.
Regional and issue advisory committees
Recognizing that a one-size-fits-all approach will not work for the diverse Indigenous population across Canada, the commission has the authority to establish regional advisory bodies, composed of families, loved ones and survivors to advise on issues specific to various regions, within the scope of the independent inquiry. The commission may also establish issue-specific advisory bodies composed of Elders, youth, family members of victims, local organizations, representatives of national Indigenous organizations, etc., within the scope of the independent inquiry.
Timeline and budget
The commission will be provided $53.86 million by the federal government over two years to complete its mandate by December 31, 2018.