Recommendations on the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Canada
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ottawa, ON (May 3, 2016) In February, 2016, Pauktuutit, with the support of Minister Carolyn Bennett and officials at Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, held a pre-consultation meeting in Ottawa that brought together Inuit family members, representatives of a number of regional and national Inuit organizations, subject matter experts and others. This unprecedented meeting resulted with a comprehensive report with many recommendations on the mandate, composition, scope and process of the national inquiry. Participants also gave a name to the work to come: Nipimit Nanisiniq Finding Voice.
In 2014, the Pauktuutit Board of Directors said publicly that ‘in order to support a call for a national inquiry, there must be sufficient assurance that Inuit women, families, communities and representative organizations will have the necessary support for full and meaningful participation in such a process. It will also be necessary to ensure the families of missing and murdered Inuit women are fully informed about and consulted on the need for a national inquiry. Pauktuutit will continue to support the wishes and priorities of the families of missing and murdered Inuit women and girls.’
‘For too long, Inuit women have been excluded from important national discussions and decisions that have a direct impact on our families and communities. We welcomed and appreciated this opportunity to spend time together to talk about an issue that affects all of us on a daily basis,’ said Rebecca Kudloo, Pauktuutit’s President. “This inquiry will raise difficult circumstances and issues that many of us have not had the opportunity to begin to heal from. We made sure to include as much time as family members at our meeting needed to find the strength and courage to talk about what has happened,” Kudloo added.
Pauktuutit’s recommendations to the federal government include addressing Inuit needs, selection of commissioners, the mandate and scope of the inquiry, involving Inuit participants and supporting families and cultural practices and ceremonies. Priorities to be examined must include Inuit-specific issues and concerns including but not limited to policing and safety, criminal investigations, the justice system, offender reintegration, crime prevention and health and social services.
Participants expressed strong concerns about how the inquiry would be conducted and their worry that, if not done appropriately and at a pace that is appropriate for family members and others, will only cause further harm. Specific recommendations include providing local, trauma-informed counselling before, during and long after the hearings as well as ongoing counselling that addresses short- and longer-term trauma in regional Inuit language dialects.
With regard to the composition of the inquiry, participants recommend that commissioners should equally represent Inuit, Métis and First Nations; include either one Inuk woman, or an Inuk man and woman, one of is a lawyer; and be respected leaders who are approachable and good listeners.
Family violence including the abuse of children remains an urgent issue that must be addressed as priorities during and after the national inquiry. Participants at this meeting also finalized a national strategy for the prevention of violence against Inuit women and children. This strategic plan is based on recommendations that have been made for decades by bodies including but not limited to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the Aboriginal Healing Foundation and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as well as Pauktuutit’s direct consultations with Inuit women over the same period of time.
Pauktuutit worked with Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and Tungasuvvingat Inuit, who also held consultations in the regions and cities in the south. Many of the recommendations from all Inuit consultations are consistent and complementary. ‘We look forward to talking with ITK, TI and the federal government as soon as possible to discuss a united Inuit approach to this national inquiry that is in the best interest of Inuit as well as concrete outcomes once the inquiry has been completed. We are committed to this process, but we must all be sure that the results of this work are implemented,’ Kudloo concluded.
The report and strategic plan can be found at:
To arrange an interview, please contact:
Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada
1-800-667-0749, ext. 242