October 5, 2016 (Ottawa, ON) – At the October 4th Sisters In Spirit vigils throughout the country, we heard family members describe their disappointment and concern about the delays in starting the National Inquiry. The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) would also like to express our disappointment and frustration with the lack of substantial progress in the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls since its official launch on August 3rd, 2016.
“We are very concerned. The two-year mandate that the National Inquiry Commission has been given leaves a very short time for the mandated tasks of establishing regional and issue-specific advisory bodies, creating trauma-informed and culturally aware counselling services, and beginning the substantive process of listening to family members, loved ones, and survivors express their stories all across Canada,” said NWAC President Francyne Joe.
“After 11 years of conducting in-depth research, publishing extensive reports, and campaigning for a National Inquiry to address the alarming rates of violence against Indigenous women and girls, we are very disappointed to see that over two months into the two-year Inquiry mandate, no visible progress has been made. Family members, loved ones have been waiting for decades to be heard. We recognize that it a big task to start a National Inquiry but the lack of communication has been disappointing and worrying.” said President Francyne Joe.
Family members, loved ones, and survivors deserve a transparent National Inquiry that is capable of delivering justice and properly honouring the over 1200 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada. A transparent National Inquiry includes easily accessible information regarding office locations across Canada, readily available contact information to the Commissioners and their staff, a step-by-step guide on how to get involved with the Inquiry, a straightforward and coherent website, and other necessary infrastructure that will ensure the success of this Inquiry.
The time has come for the Inquiry Commission to illustrate its competence in being able to adequately address the systemic causes behind the high rates of violence against Indigenous women and girls. The immense responsibility associated with the tremendous task of addressing one of the gravest human rights abuses in Canada’s history leaves no time to waste. The time to begin this important work is now.
The Native Women’s Association of Canada is committed to monitoring the progress on the National Inquiry and will continue to apply pressure on the Inquiry Commission to live up to the family members’ high expectations.
The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of First Nations and Métis women within First Nation, Métis and Canadian societies. As a national organization representing Aboriginal women since 1974, NWAC’s mandate is to achieve equality for all Aboriginal women in Canada.