Frequently Asked Questions

What can the National Inquiry do?

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls will look at the web of services and programs that are meant to create healthy, protective and livable communities across Canada. The National Inquiry will look at how these services and programs affect Indigenous women, girls and 2SLBTQ people as well as the families that are missing loved ones. The National Inquiry will look into:

  • Systemic causes of all forms of violence – including sexual violence – against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLBTQ throughout Canada;
  • Underlying social, economic, cultural, institutional and historical causes contributing to the ongoing violence and particular vulnerabilities of Indigenous women, girls and 2SLBTQ in Canada, and;
  • Institutional policies and practices implemented in response to violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLBTQ in Canada, including the identification and examination of practices that have been effective in reducing violence and increasing safety;

To do this work, the Commissioners have been authorized to utilize several strategies, including:

  • Holding public hearings in locations across the country to hear the stories of families of missing or murdered Indigenous women, girls and 2SLBTQ as well as those who have experienced violence;
  • Collecting the advice of Elders, of Indigenous and non-Indigenous organizations, experts, academics, officials and public workers;
  • Gathering, privately, the stories and experiences of friends and family of murdered or missing Indigenous women, girls and 2SLBTQ and those who have survived violence;
  • Establishing regional, issue-specific advisory bodies who can bring relevant information to the attention of the Inquiry;
  • Referring incidents of illegal or improper behaviour by police, social workers and others to the relevant authorities, which may include the relevant Minister(s) within federal and/or provincial governments, or international bodies;
  • Operating in each province and territory, in addition to exercising the federal jurisdiction, as it has been empowered by the provincial and territorial governments. 

How will families and Indigenous women, girls and 2SLBTQ who have experienced violence be treated by the National Inquiry?

  • The National Inquiry will make available culturally appropriate and trauma-informed counselling services to the families of missing and murdered women, girls and 2SLBTQ and those women, girls and 2SLBTQ who have experienced violence, for the duration of their appearance before the Commissioners, and;
  • Information will be collected from those who volunteer to tell their stories in private or through a public process.

What will happen at the end of the National Inquiry?

  • The National Inquiry will operate from September 1, 2016 to December 31, 2018 or 2 years and 4 months;
  • An interim report setting out preliminary findings and recommendations will be completed by November 1, 2017;
  • The Final Report on the findings and recommendations of the Inquiry will be completed by November 1, 2018;
  • The Commissioners will make recommendations for concrete and effective action that can be taken to remove the systemic causes of violence and increase the safety of Indigenous women, girls and 2SLBTQ;
  • For a transition period after the National Inquiry, Family Information and Liaison Units (FILUs) in provinces and territories will provide access to emotional and mental support for the families and the Indigenous women, girls and 2SLBTQ who have experienced violence (note: FILUs are not managed by the National Inquiry).

What the National Inquiry cannot do

  • The National Inquiry cannot investigate or re-investigate cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and 2SLBTQ, or of women, girls and 2SLBTQ who have experienced violence;
  • The National Inquiry cannot provide monetary compensation or restitution to anyone;

What is the present work of the National Inquiry?

  • The initial work of the National Inquiry, since it was given its mandate on September 1st, 2016, has been to build the infrastructure and hire the personnel needed to carry out this important work;
  • Commissioners and staff are reviewing the pre-Inquiry work and past research on the related topics, and are designing a trauma-informed process to receive the statements and testimonies of families and of Indigenous women, girls and 2SLBTQ who have experienced violence;
  • In addition, the National Inquiry is working toward the inclusion of Indigenous protocols and practices within its hearing process;
  • A trauma-informed process is one that recognizes that testifying about one’s traumatic experiences can lead to a re-traumatization. The National Inquiry will be guided by the principle, “Do No Harm”.

When will families be able to tell their stories?

  • The National Inquiry understands that those who have experienced violence and the families of survivors are anxious to have an opportunity to be heard. Towards that end, the National Inquiry is committed to designing a process which will respect the Indigenous women, girls and 2SLBTQ who have experienced violence, families, and all those who need to be heard, and will promote reconciliation and healing across the country.
  • Planning and consultation meetings with families, women, Elders and others to build a healthy process is ongoing;
  • It is anticipated that, in addition to meeting with advisors and families to set up the process, the National Inquiry will be able to start receiving information from families and the Indigenous women, girls and 2SLBTQ who have experienced violence, formally, in the spring of 2017.

Where will families be able to tell their stories?

  • There will be hearings held in communities across Canada that welcome the National Inquiry;
  • If a family or Indigenous woman, girl or 2SLBTQ who has experienced violence does not want to speak in public at the hearing, they may speak to the Commissioner without the public present or they can ask the Commissioner to order that their identity be kept private from the public at large or the media;
  • If a family or an Indigenous women, girl or 2SLBTQ who has experienced violence prefers, a Statement Taker can meet with them in a mutually-acceptable location.

How will families be involved in the process?

  • The National Inquiry is creating a family-first process, which means that its process is set up to ensure women, girls, 2SLBTQ and families are included and feel safe and comfortable in sharing their concerns, stories and suggestions for eliminating violence and resolving the tragedy of loved ones not coming home;
  • Participation by the families, women, girls and 2SLBTQ is voluntary;
  • Those who chose to participate will be respected and heard;
  • The National Inquiry will have a range of options for family and Indigenous women, girls and 2SLBTQ who have experienced violence to tell their stories: public hearings with the Commissioners; private hearings with the Commissioners; and individual interviews, in private, with Statement Takers.
  • At official testimony gathering events, a family spokesperson may tell the story of their lost loved one - their life, personality and the issues that may have led to their loss.
  • There are many families who want to tell their stories, and the National Inquiry wants to give every family a chance to tell their experience;
  • All family members will be asked to self-identify, tell the story of the loved-one they lost, and provide the National Inquiry with their thoughts and feelings in either verbal, written, recorded, or artistic forms.
  • The spokesperson for a family doesn’t have to be a family member. Once a family identifies a spokesperson for an official National Inquiry event that spokesperson will be provided with travel support.
  • Unfortunately, there are too many families who have been touched by this issue to provide travel and accommodation for all. Other options for contact will be available to gather every family’s experience.
  • The process and infrastructure for self-identifying is still being set up. At this time, we encourage families to subscribe to our website – mmiwg-ffada.ca – where updates will be posted.

What does systemic mean? 

  • The National Inquiry is mandated to review systemic causes of all forms of violence – including sexual violence – against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLBTQ in Canada;
  • This means that the Commissioners will examine root causes of violence which are commonly suffered by Indigenous women, girls and 2SLBTQ with a view to detecting common trends across the country which contribute to the high incidence of violence, suffered disproportionately, by these women, girls and 2SLBTQ; 
  • Under a systemic review, individual cases will not be investigated (or re-investigated if already investigated by the police) in a detailed way. They will be examined only to the extent necessary to reveal those common threads and factors which cause this national tragedy;
  • This collective information will then be used to inform recommendations to be made by the Commissioners aimed at reducing the high rate of violent acts experienced by Indigenous women, girls and 2SLBTQ in Canada and promoting a healthier, safer environment for them.

What does a trauma-informed process mean?

  • Trauma-informed means designing a legal fact-finding process, that will minimize the chance and/or extent that the women, girls, 2SLBTQ and family members who wish to share their information and stories with the Commissioners will be re-traumatized (or re-triggered) through relaying their painful experiences;
  • There are tools available to the Commissioners to achieve this goal including:
  • Issuing a publication ban on the identities of those women, girls, 2SLBTQ and family members testifying about their traumatic and deeply personal experiences who wish to keep their identities out of the media and the public eye;
  • Declaring the hearing to be “in camera” (meaning confidential) and excluding the public and media where women, girls, 2SLBTQ and family members require such privacy in order to safely tell their stories to the Commissioners;
  • Permitting stories to be told in creative methods which allow the women, girls, 2SLBTQ and family members to relay their message to the Commissioners, such as through poetry, music or art;
  • Stories in writing or to be told to trained counselors as “Statement Takers”;
  • Ensuring that any questioning of witnesses, which may be permitted, is done in a respectful way, without any rape myths or negative stereotypical images;
  • Configuring the hearing room in a way which is respectful of the cultural norms of the women, girls, 2SLBTQ and family members testifying;
  • Ensuring that Indigenous ceremonies are observed as requested by the people testifying to help them be strong, safe and healthy;
  • Ensure Elders, healers and/or support people to be present if requested by the women, girls, 2SLBTQ and family members testifying to help them be strong, safe and healthy;
  • Ensure to the best ability of the Commission that appropriate interpreters are available so that the people testifying can do so in their Indigenous language;
  • Have counselors available to the women, girls, 2SLBTQ and family members immediately before, during and after the hearing, with the possibility of longer term counselling;
  • Special (added) protections in place for girls (minors) who wish to share their painful experiences with the Commissioners.
  • The Commission recognizes that some women, girls, 2SLBTQ and family members may wish to tell their stories in public to shine a light on the journey they have taken.  The above tools are simply options which can be utilized where appropriate.  The overriding objective is to encourage the telling of experiences in a truthful, empowering, and safe/healthy manner.
  • The Commission is actively consulting, and carefully studying the pre-Inquiry cross-country consultation process which took place in 2015, with a view to designing a trauma-informed process which will be most likely to achieve its overriding objective.  It will issue a document which will outline this process, prior to the commencement of the public hearings, and will post it on this website.

 

Is this National Inquiry another Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) or Residential School Independent Assessment Process (IAP)?

  • In short, the National Inquiry is neither the TRC or the IAP, nor will its processes replicate those fact-finding processes;
  • The National Inquiry  has legal powers and responsibilities, and a purpose, different from the TRC or IAP;
  • For example, the TRC and IAP had fact finding processes which had to meet a level of “proof” which would warrant the award of compensation.  The National Inquiry does not have the power to award any compensation; 
  • Its purpose is simply to find the truth underlying why Indigenous women, girls and 2SLBTQ are so victimized by violence, so often the subject of “unsolved” crimes, missing, and murdered in numbers disproportionate to other Canadians;
  • It has the mandate to educate the public, to facilitate healing of traumatized communities, to restore public confidence in institutions that have been seriously damaged in the eyes of Canadians, and to make recommendations for action and policy reform aimed at effecting real changes to make Indigenous women and girls safe, sacred, honoured and empowered.

 

What will families and Indigenous women and girls who have experienced violence be able to share?

  • The Commissioners want families and the Indigenous women, girls and 2SLBTQ who have experienced violence to be able to share their stories in numerous ways, including, official testimony gathering.
  • The National Inquiry will also receive art pieces, writings, scripts, videos, oral history and numerous other ways to deliver the stories of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and others who have experienced violence, as well as the surrounding issues.

 

How will the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls be honoured?

  • This question is a major part of the National Inquiry’s mandate. In order to honour the women, girls and 2SLBTQ who have been lost to us the National Inquiry wants to hear from the Indigenous and Canadian public.
  • How would YOU like to see Indigenous women, girls and 2SLBTQ honoured?
  • Please use our website to share your ideas.