Native Women's Association of the NWT

Pre-inquiry meeting Jan. 7-8, 2016, Yellowknife

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls held its fourth engagement meeting in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, on Thursday and Friday, January 7-8, 2016. This pre-inquiry meeting included survivors, families and loved ones. Their experiences, views and contributions will be used to help design the inquiry

A summary of the meeting is provided below. The summary is not a complete account of the discussions. Instead, it highlights the key themes that emerged from this engagement meeting. Read a copy of the discussion guide used at this meeting or complete the on-line survey to share your own views.

Overview

The engagement meeting was held over two days with the first day being a preparation day.

An Elder arrived and prepared the space for the first day which comprised an orientation session and a sharing circle where survivors, families and loved ones shared their personal stories associated with violence against Indigenous women and girls. The effects of this violence were discussed as well as the journey towards healing.

The second day was dedicated to how the inquiry should be designed. The day opened and closed with traditional ceremonies, including explanations about the signification of these ceremonies for the Indigenous peoples of the Northwest Territories. Drumming was performed and welcoming speeches were held. Those in attendance acknowledged and honoured the women and girls who were murdered and who are still missing. Prayers were also offered for those most affected by these tragedies.

The Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs and her parliamentary secretary heard about the effects of this violence on the families of victims and their communities.

Participants in the Yellowknife session mentioned the importance of making sure that families are involved throughout the design of the inquiry.

Who attended

Survivors, families and loved ones of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls attended the pre-inquiry meeting.  There were also representatives of front-line organizations. Also in attendance were:

Officials from Indigenous and Northern Affairs were present throughout the day.

Close to 100 family members and loved ones participated from several Indigenous communities. An Elder and health support workers were also present to provide a safe and supportive environment for discussions.

Leadership and participation

Two questions were asked about who should lead and who should take part in the inquiry.  The views on leadership included the need to have:

Participants also identified which groups should have a chance to take part in the inquiry:

Participants stressed the importance of involving survivors, families and loved ones. To make this possible, participants said the inquiry must:

Priorities and key issues

Participants identified the issues the Inquiry must address if it is to produce recommendations for specific actions. These issues include:

 

Participants want the inquiry’s final report to include recommendations for specific actions including:

In general, the participants agreed that solving the problem of violence will be a long-term process. As such, efforts to address violence will need to be monitored, measured and supported. As time passes, attention should continue to focus on the needs and concerns of survivors, families and loved ones.

Support and cultural practices

Participants outlined the need to include traditional practices and ceremonies in the inquiry process. The inquiry must also include healing processes to acknowledge and address the trauma felt by those affected.

Recommendations about how to include cultural practices and ceremony include:

Additional comments

As well as discussing the questions listed in the discussion guide, participants were invited to share other comments and views on the design of the inquiry.  These include: