Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

Reclaiming Power and Place

The National Inquiry’s Final Report reveals that persistent and deliberate human and Indigenous rights violations and abuses are the root cause behind Canada’s staggering rates of violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people. The two volume report calls for transformative legal and social changes to resolve the crisis that has devastated Indigenous communities across the country.
The Final Report is comprised of the truths of more than 2,380 family members, survivors of violence, experts and Knowledge Keepers shared over two years of cross-country public hearings and evidence gathering. It delivers 231 individual Calls for Justice directed at governments, institutions, social service providers, industries and all Canadians.
As documented in the Final Report, testimony from family members and survivors of violence spoke about a surrounding context marked by multigenerational and intergenerational trauma and marginalization in the form of poverty, insecure housing or homelessness and barriers to education, employment, health care and cultural support. Experts and Knowledge Keepers spoke to specific colonial and patriarchal policies that displaced women from their traditional roles in communities and governance and diminished their status in society, leaving them vulnerable to violence.

Supplementary report: Quebec

The National Inquiry is simultaneously releasing a report specific to Quebec in order to give particular attention to the issue of violence against Indigenous women and girls in that province. The report outlines specific issues such as language barriers, health and social services provide by religious congregations and interaction with Indigenous and provincial police forces.

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A New Framework
Section 1 of the report, made up of Chapters 1-4, sets up the overall context that will be helpful for readers in approaching the information presented in the later sections of the report. In Section 1, we talk about the role of relationships, human and Indigenous rights, the history of colonization, and how each of these contexts can inform our understanding of the issue of violence against First Nations, Inuit, and Métis women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people.
Chapter 1: Centring Relationships to End Violence
Chapter 2: Indigenous Recognitions of Power and Place
Chapter 3: Emphasizing Accountability through Human Rights Tools
Chapter 4: Colonization as Gendered Oppression
Right to Culture
The history of colonization has altered Inuit, First Nations, and Métis Peoples’ relationships to their culture and identity through targeted policies designed to sever their cultural and kin connections. These attacks on culture, which include residential schools, the Sixties Scoop and other assimilatory policies, are the starting points for other forms of violence Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people experience today.
Right to Health
Colonial violence directed toward cultural practice, family, and community creates conditions that increase the likelihood of other forms of violence, including interpersonal violence, through its distinct impacts on the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health of Inuit, First Nations, and Métis Peoples. In sharing stories about the health issues they or their missing or murdered loved ones faced and the experiences they had in seeking health services, family members and survivors illustrated how addressing violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people must also address their right to health.
Right to Security
First Nations, Inuit, and Métis women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people live with an almost constant threat to their physical, emotional, economic, social, and cultural security. As families, survivors, and others shared their truths with the National Inquiry, it became clear that, for the majority of Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people living in all settings and regions, security is a key area where violence against Indigenous women and girls can and should be addressed.
Right to Justice
While there are many facets to understanding the experiences of Métis, First Nations, and Inuit women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people and the justice system, this chapter focuses most closely on the experiences of the families of missing and murdered loved ones. We also look at what survivors of violence told us about their experiences with police, the court system, and the correctional system. These encounters highlight crucial disconnections between Indigenous people and justice systems that compromise their basic right to justice.
Forensic Document Review Project

Overwhelmingly, the families who testified before the National Inquiry were seeking answers to perceived flaws in the investigations into the loss of their loved ones.

They discussed many ways in which they felt that police services had failed in their duty to properly investigate the crimes committed against them or their loved ones, leading ultimately to a failure to obtain closure and justice within the existing system. In response, the National Inquiry established the Forensic Document Review Project (FDRP), consisting of two teams conducting a review of police and other related institutional files. One team examined files of the Province of Quebec; the second group examined police files in all other provinces and territories throughout the rest of Canada. In this summary, when we refer to the FDRP, we are referring specifically to this second group. Information and recommendations of the Quebec FDRP are located in the Supplementary Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls devoted to Quebec. The purpose of the FDRP was to identify potential systemic barriers or problems and areas of weakness relating to the protection of Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people, and to make recommendations to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls about the systemic causes of their disappearances and deaths.

During the course of the project, the Forensic Document Review Project (FDRP), which was tasked with examining files outside of Quebec, obtained and reviewed 174 files and 35 previous reports and studies on policing related to Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people, and analyzed publicly available information related to those files.