Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honour the important work carried out by the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The Inquiry was established by the Government of Canada along with all provincial and territorial governments in response to public outcry about the alarming number of Indigenous women and girls who are known to be missing or murdered.
The National Inquiry was tasked with exploring and reporting on the systemic causes of all forms of violence against Indigenous women and girls. They were required to examine the underlying social, economic, cultural, institutional and historical causes that contribute to the ongoing violence against and the particular vulnerabilities of Indigenous women and girls in Canada. As well, they were mandated to look into and report on existing institutional policies and practices to address violence, including those shown effective in reducing violence and increasing safety.
The National Inquiry began holding hearings across Canada in 2016. The hearings, called “Truth Gathering Processes,” heard from family members, survivors, community members, experts, Elders and Knowledge Keepers. In the Interim Report tabled in October 2017, the National Inquiry noted that they were being urged to include Indigenous women who identified as 2SLGBTQQIA – that is, Two-Spirited, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex or asexual. The National Inquiry agreed to honour this request.
In March 2018, the National Inquiry held a public hearing in Yellowknife where family members and survivors shared their stories and experiences. The Government of the Northwest Territories was granted “party with standing” status and made presentations at separate Expert Hearings. The Inquiry’s work in the Northwest Territories was supported by the Inquiry’s National Family Advisory Circle, the GNWT and the NWT Native Women’s Association.
Mr. Speaker, Indigenous women and girls throughout Canada, along with their allies, have been waiting anxiously to see the final recommendations. On Monday, June 3rd, I had the honor of attending the historic event releasing the National Inquiry’s final report in Gatineau, Quebec.
This was, in many ways, a solemn occasion. Identifying the root causes of the disproportionate rates of violence experienced by Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people requires us to look at hard truths. At the heart of the Truth Gathering process, and of the Inquiry itself, are the painful stories of families and survivors. Their stories shed light upon aspects of Canadian society that many are reluctant to accept. Doing so is a necessary step in finding our way forward.
Mr. Speaker, this occasion was also a celebration of the resilience of Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people. They have persevered in the face of violence that has clearly been happening for a long, long time. We must demonstrate our commitment to ending this violence by commemorating the lives and legacies of those that have been taken and ensure that they are not forgotten. We must also support healing, advance reconciliation and raise public awareness. We must keep this issue at the forefront of people’s minds and consistently convey another truth: that Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA individuals are valued, loved and worthy of justice.
The release of the key findings and recommendations of the National Inquiry marks the end of their work and the beginning of ours. We have been given a catalyst for change and a path to achieve it. Together, through the combined efforts of individuals, communities, and all levels of government, we can end this violence. I look forward to reviewing the recommendations and working with my counterparts across Canada to address this issue.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to conclude my statement by acknowledging the courage and resilience of the family members and survivors that took the time to share their experiences and stories. I am sure that it was painful, but we are all sincerely grateful for their contributions to the healing journey before us.
Masi, Mr. Speaker.