November 20, 2018

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Open Letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau from Families and Relations of MMIWG2S

Open Letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau from Families and Relations of MMIWG2S

Photo of the Commissioners in the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry | Image Source: Justin Tang, Canadian Press

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
pm@pm.gc.ca; justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca

Dear Prime Minister Justin Trudeau,

A coalition of families wrote an Open Letter to Chief Commissioner Marion Buller, on May 15
th, 2017 with specific concerns. On July 11 th, 2017, we, the Coalition of family signatories of the
Open Letter, met with the Commissioners of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered
Indigenous Women and Girls. National Inquiry staff also attended this meeting, including lead
counsel Susan Vella.

The Coalition is comprised of families and grassroots organizations across Canada. The
Coalition shared many of their concerns in hopes that the Inquiry would address the deep-seated structural problems that have been causing anguish and re-traumatization for many of the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and Two-Spirit people (MMIWG2S). In a statement to the National Inquiry, the families said, “This is our Inquiry: we are the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit persons. It is our
communities and loved ones who are being re-traumatized by these misguided processes.”

Far from rebuilding the trust of families and survivors of violence, the Coalition of families left
the meeting feeling they could no longer trust the Inquiry to move forward with its mandate. One
family member stated, “I feel like a circle being forced into a square peg. I’ve said that many
times this week. I now have to withdraw my support for the Inquiry.” Another family member
expressed, “I did not feel safe, not at all. I feel an obligation to share that my family members
also wouldn’t have felt safe.” An additional family member stated, “We need to honour the
spirits of these women. None of the Commissioners are doing that.”

After meeting with the Commissioners, the Coalition was invited to share their reflections with
Minister Carolyn Bennett. The Coalition officially called for the Minister to restart this
misguided process and asked her to formally request the resignations of the Commissioners. As one family member pleaded, “When I leave this place, I’m going to have to tell my family that
I’ve lost faith in the Commissioners. I would like you, Minister Bennett, to take action – it takes
guts.”

We are asking you, Prime Minister, to live by your words to build nation to nation relationships and to honour the spirits of MMIWG2S. As families told the Minister, “the colonial construct doesn’t work for us. It hasn’t worked for us and it won’t work until we, as families, until we develop and rebuil the structure to include ceremony, languages and medicine.” The time has come to restart this top down Inquiry and to rebuild it from the ground up. As the families said to the Commissioners: “we are reclaiming our Inquiry.” Prime Minister Trudeau, it is time for you to come alongside families of MMIWG2S, restart this Inquiry, and create space for an
Indigenous, trauma-informed process that honours all our relations.

Signed,

The Coalition of Family Signatories of the Open Letter

cc:
The Honourable Dr. Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs
The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General
The Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister of Status of Women
Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of
Indigenous Peoples

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MUSKRAT Magazine

MUSKRAT is an on-line Indigenous arts, culture magazine that honours the connection between humans and our traditional ecological knowledge by exhibiting original works and critical commentary. MUSKRAT embraces both rural and urban settings and uses media arts, the Internet, and wireless technology to investigate and disseminate traditional knowledges in ways that inspire their reclamation.

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