Inquiry design meeting #1: December 11, 2015, Ottawa

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls held its first engagement meeting in Ottawa on Friday, December 11, 2015. This pre-Inquiry meeting included survivors, families and loved ones. Their experiences, views and contributions will be used to help design the inquiry.

A summary of the first 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.

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The first engagement meeting opened and closed with traditional ceremonies. All those in attendance acknowledged and honoured the women and girls who were murdered and who are still missing. Prayers were also offered for those most affected by these tragedies.

Survivors, family members and loved ones gathered together in a large circle. They shared their personal experiences with violence against their daughters, sisters, cousins, and friends. The Ministers of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and Status of Women heard first-hand about the effects of this violence on the families and their communities. The Ministers also learned about the needs of the families and loved ones to move forward and to heal. The need for healing came through as a clear and central theme throughout the day.

The participants stressed that the national Inquiry must be designed with their direct involvement. The participation of the survivors, families, loved ones is necessary if the Inquiry is to be meaningful. Participants also went through a list of specific questions and their answers clearly show the importance and value of having these voices heard.

Who attended

The first pre-Inquiry meeting was attended by survivors, families and loved ones of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls. There were also representatives of front-line and Indigenous organizations. Also in attendance were:

The Deputy Ministers and other senior officials from each of the three federal departments were also present throughout the day.

Over 70 family members and loved ones participated from several Indigenous communities. Most came from the greater Ottawa-Gatineau region. Some also attended from the Atlantic region and Manitoba as they wanted to attend the first meeting. Elders and health support workers were also present to provide a safe and supportive setting.

Leadership and participation

Two questions asked were who should lead and who should take part in the Inquiry. The views on leadership included the need to have:

Participants also identified which groups should have a chance to take part in the Inquiry:

Participants stressed the importance of involving survivors, families and loved ones, and to do so by visiting their communities. To make this possible, participants said the Inquiry must provide:

Priorities and key issues

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

Participants want the Inquiry's final report to include recommendations for specific actions by:

In general, the participants agreed that solving the problem of violence will be a long-term process. As such, efforts to address violence will need to be monitored, measured and supported. As time passes, attention should continue to focus on the needs and concerns of survivors, families and loved ones.

Support and cultural practices

Participants stressed 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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