On August 3rd the federal government announced an independent Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The establishment of such an inquiry was one of the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. The current timeline for the Inquiry calls for it’s work to be completed by the end of 2018.
Winnipeg Public Library has created an information guide to help the public learn about the work of the Inquiry as well as the topic of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. You can find this guide by visiting www.winnipeg.ca/library, opening the “Our Collections” menu and clicking on “Subject Guides”.
The Inquiry will eventually have it’s own offices, contact information, and website. To learn about the Inquiry, the public should visit this site. Please note the existence of a national toll-free crisis line for anyone needing support after reading the information found within this site.
The “About the Independent Inquiry” section of the site is especially useful. It provides information about what the Inquiry will and will not (or can and cannot) do, in addition to other practical information such as timelines and budget.
Five Commissioners will conduct the Inquiry. These include:
- Chief Commissioner, the Honourable Marion Buller, Provincial Court Judge, British Columbia Mistawasis First Nation, Saskatchewan
- Commissioner Michèle Audette, Former President of Femmes Autochtones du Québec (Québec Native Women’s Association), Mani Utenam
- Québec Commissioner Qajaq Robinson, Associate, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP Iqaluit, Nunavut
- Commissioner Marilyn Poitras, Assistant Professor Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
- Commissioner Brian Eyolfson, Acting Deputy Director, Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, Legal Services Couchiching First Nation, Ontario
Perhaps the most anticipated part of the Inquiry’s announcement was its Terms of Reference. Some groups, such as the Native Women’s Association of Canada, have expressed concerns related to family supports, investigation of cold cases, jurisdictional issues connected to the provinces/territories and the Inquiry, and the need to work with the justice system to implement changes. Amnesty International has echoed some of these concerns. Others were concerned about representation. Pauktuutit, the national Inuit women’s organization, expressed disappointment that the Inquiry does not have an Inuk Commissioner (Commissioner Qajaq Robinson is not Inuk).
There have been a number of studies – by both organizations and academic researchers – about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls over the last number of years. We have brought these together in our information guide here. The most recent study, conducted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, concluded that 1181 Indigenous women and girls have gone missing or were murdered between 1980 and 2012. Some people expect the number is much higher.
Our information guide also has a section of Manitoba-specific information which will be added to as the Inquiry’s work progresses. Currently you can find a fact sheet (2010) with statistics about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in our province, a map of a number of cases, as well as cold case information for some victims.
We have also included a link to a toolkit for families created by family members of missing and murdered women and girls, in partnership with local organization Ka Ni Kanichihk. The kit provides practical information – including document templates – to assist families whose loved ones have gone missing.
Winnipeg Public Library will update our information guide as the work of the Inquiry progresses, including adding suggested book titles about violence against Indigenous women and girls and Indigenous women’s rights and resilience. We invite everyone to share the guide as a resource for learning about the Inquiry and the important issues it will examine.