Caroline Cochrane: National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories has made a commitment in its mandate to support and participate in a National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls in collaboration with families, Aboriginal governments, the federal government, and other organizations.

I am pleased to report that on August 3, 2016, the Government of Canada formally launched the National Inquiry. The launch included the appointment of five Commissioners to lead this work along with the Terms of Reference for the Inquiry.

The Commissioners have been directed to recommend concrete actions to remove systemic causes of violence and increase the safety of Indigenous women and girls in Canada; recommend ways to honour and commemorate missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls; and provide its recommendations to the Government of Canada through an interim report by November 1, 2017 and a final report by November 1, 2018. The Inquiry will be funded by the Government of Canada, with the participation and full cooperation of all the provinces and territories.

The Commissioners are currently developing the process for the Inquiry. I will continue to share any progress with Members.

Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories has long supported the call for a National Inquiry as we believe it is an important step in acknowledging and addressing the root causes of violence towards Indigenous women and girls in Canada. With this in mind, our government is committed to doing its part to support the National Inquiry.

An important first step as a show of our commitment was the registration of an order under the Public Inquiries Act on October 4th that provides the National Inquiry with the authority to fully examine matters within the jurisdiction of the Northwest Territories.

The Government of the Northwest Territories, led by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Intergovernmental Relations, is currently in the process of establishing an interdepartmental working group to guide our participation in the Inquiry. These efforts will include collaboration with our Aboriginal government partners, families and other stakeholders.

Our government continues to work with our federal, provincial and territorial government counterparts and the National Indigenous Organizations to fulfill the commitments agreed to during the 2nd National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls held this past February in Winnipeg. Among these efforts is the establishment of a pan-Canadian prevention and awareness campaign focused on changing the public perception and attitudes on the issue of violence against Indigenous women and girls. We are sharing information and seeking advice from our Aboriginal government partners on how to address the issues of violence in our communities. 

Mr. Speaker, violence against Indigenous women and girls remains a serious issue in the Northwest Territories. While we welcome the news of the National Inquiry getting underway, it remains critically important for all governments to continue to do their part to ensure that the national attention on violence against Indigenous women and girls remains on the forefront. This includes improving communication and coordination between Indigenous families, communities, victim services, policing, prosecutions, women’s groups, anti-violence groups and shelter workers.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.