Commissioners Define “Family” at Advisory Meeting

For Immediate Release

March 9, 2017

(VANCOUVER, B.C.) – Four Commissioners of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls met this week with dozens of regional organizations and groups that have been advocating for decades to end violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQ.

Nearly 50 members of the Coalition on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, as well as 20 family members, survivors of violence, health care providers, and Elders spoke with the Commissioners over the two-day gathering.

Commissioners received advice on issues specific to the lower mainland in British Columbia. The majority in attendance were vocal about not repeating similar decisions made during the Wally Oppal Inquiry, especially when it came to consulting first with families of loved ones and survivors of violence.

Other questions addressed were who is considered a family member to a missing or murdered loved one, how will the commission define missing or murdered and what will the commission classify as violence against women, girls, and 2SLGBTQ?

“As Indigenous people, we have a bigger definition of family and that needs to be acknowledged,” Chief Commissioner Marion Buller said. “It’s not just blood relatives necessarily. There can be adopted family members, foster care relatives, and even really close friends. What we want to do is get the word out about what we are now calling the family of the heart.”

“We keep hearing, my aunt, my sister, or my mom for example, is not on the list,” Commissioner Qajaq Robinson said. “It’s not just the lost loved ones the RCMP recognizes as part of this tragedy.

“We need to start letting go of the notion there’s a prescribed or final list to go by.”

Violence includes discrimination, racism, and perpetuation of hyper-sexualized images of Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQ, Commissioner Robinson added.

For more information contact:

Waneek Horn-Miller, Director of Community Relations, 514-240-0368