Inquiry design meeting #8: January 19-20, 2016, Halifax, Nova Scotia

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls held its eighth engagement meeting in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Tuesday and Wednesday, January 19-20, 2016. This pre-inquiry meeting included survivors, families and loved ones. Their experiences, views and contributions will help design the inquiry.

A summary of the 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. Read a copy of the discussion guide used at this meeting or complete the on-line survey to share your own views.

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The engagement session in Halifax took place over two days. The first day was reserved for registration and orientation, while on the second day participants took part in a sharing circle with the Ministers and discussed how best to design an Inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

After participants raised the importance of commencing the orientation with ceremonies, the first day was opened by a grandmother and both a smudge and several powerful drum songs were performed for participants. Participants then took part in an orientation session where survivors, families and loved ones were invited to share their experiences and personal accounts associated with violence against Indigenous women and girls. Participants talked about the long-term effects of these experiences on themselves, their families and their communities. They also discussed their journeys towards reconciliation and healing, and what supports they would need to help them along this path.

The second day was dedicated to how the inquiry should be designed. At the start of the day, the room was blessed and traditional ceremonies were performed by Inuit and Mi'kmaw Elders, who also explained the signification of these ceremonies for the Indigenous peoples of the east coast. Drumming was performed by a group of strong, courageous women and welcoming speeches were held by the Elders, Minister, facilitator and support workers. A powerful banner displaying faceless dolls, representing those women who were murdered or are still missing, was on display for participants. There was also a display of traditional Mi'kmaw clothing.

The importance of involving survivors, families and loved ones in all stages of the Inquiry process was reiterated throughout both days, as was the need to examine the origins of violence in many communities.

Who attended

Survivors, families and loved ones of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls attended the pre-inquiry meeting. Representatives of front-line organizations were also in attendance. Other participants included:

Officials from both departments were present throughout the day.

The Ministers stressed the need to engage first with survivors, family and loved ones to "get it right".

Nearly 90 family members and loved ones participated from several Indigenous communities. Three Elders as well as health support workers were also present to provide support and create a safe space for pre-inquiry discussions.

Leadership and participation

Participants were asked who should lead the Inquiry and provided some of the following feedback:

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. To make this possible, participants said the inquiry must:

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 including:

Support and cultural practices

Participants outlined 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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