Missing and murdered indigenous inquiry moving into next phase

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: GOVERNMENT OF CANADA

After Justin Trudeau's entry to cabinet on Nov. 4, 2015 as Prime Minister of Canada, launching a national inquiry into the murdered and missing indigenous women and girls was one of his top priorities.

“The prime minister has stated on several occasions that no relationship is more important to him and to Canada than the one with indigenous people,” said the office of the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Carolyn Bennett, in an email interview.

On Dec. 8, 2015, it was announced by Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould that the government would be entering its first stage of the inquiry. The first stage, which consisted of meeting the families of those who were affected and other indigenous peoples in order to create an inquiry with suitable goals, was projected to be completed by spring of 2016.

The final report and executive summary of the pre-inquiry engagement process were made available on the indigenous and Northern Affairs website on May 31, 2016.

“The final report summarizes the results of the public engagement phase on the design of the inquiry. It highlights key issues, priorities and recommendations identified by participants throughout the faceto- face engagement meetings, in online surveys and through phone, email and mail submissions,” the email said.

A public announcement to name the commissioners for the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls inquiry took place on Aug. 3, 2016 in Gatineau, Que. It was announced by Bennett that the pre-inquiry phase had come to an official end and the inquiry phase will now begin.

“It is a vital first step toward eliminating the racism, sexism and violence that holds us all back,” said Minister of Status of Women Patty Hadju at the same public announcement for the inquiry.

The purpose of the inquiry is to make recommendations to remove violence, improve safety and honour and commemorate missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. The government of Canada plans to invest $53.86 million to have an interim report completed by the fall of 2017 and a final report by the end of 2018.

“The government is committed to substantive reconciliation with indigenous peoples in this country, and the inquiry is a first step on the path to ending the unacceptable rates of violence against indigenous women and girls,” the email said.

The government is currently actively seeking to repair the relationship with indigenous peoples and carrying out the inquiry is seen as a positive action that will hopefully lead in a direction that results in successful partnerships and reduced numbers of murdered and missing indigenous women and girls.

According to the email from Bennett, “This government has committed to a renewed nation-to-nation relationship with First Nations, Inuit and the Métis, based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership.”