On August 3, 2016, the government of Canada announced the terms of reference and commissioners who will lead the country’s independent inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
The inquiry, which officially begins on September 1, 2016 and ends on December 31, 2018, is tasked with uncovering the causes of violence against Indigenous women and girls in Canada and with providing concrete solutions to the problem.
Here’s what you should know as the government moves forward with the long-awaited inquiry:
1. The five commissioners responsible for carrying out the inquiry are:
To learn more about the commissioners, see our piece outlining their experiences and qualifications.
2. The government initially allocated $40 million over two years to the inquiry’s undertaking, but the total announced funding was increased to $53.8 million over two years.
3. Family information liaison units will be created in each province and territory. The government will also increase funding for culturally appropriate victims’ services in each province. $16.17 million will be dedicated to these services over a four year timeframe.
4. The inquiry will examine how Canada’s institutions contribute to systemic racism, sexism and misogyny that lead to and perpetuate violence against Indigenous women and girls. The inquiry will question policing practices, child welfare services, government and coroner’s offices, the Indian Act and other institutions and their impact on Indigenous women and girls.
5. The inquiry has the ability to examine both federal and provincial laws and institutions that contribute to systemic injustices.
6. The inquiry was recommended as Call to Action 41 from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s findings.
7. The inquiry has the ability to call witnesses to give evidence and will require anyone to produce documents requested by commissioners, but cannot find criminal wrongdoing. The inquiry’s recommendations after two years of work will be non-binding.
8. Concerns about the inquiry include the following:
The RCMP estimates there have been approximately 1,200 cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada between 1980 and 2012. This number may be even higher due to cases where women were not identified as Indigenous during the investigation, or where their disappearances were not reported to police. NWAC also has a database of missing and murdered Indigenous women, some of which overlaps with the RCMP’s data.
Indigenous women make up only three per cent of Canada’s population, but account for 16 per cent of all female homicides.
The inquiry’s temporary website can be found here, and will soon move to an independent website with appropriate contact information for the inquiry and commissioners.
Photo source: www.ammsa.com