The Mandate of the National Inquiry
The National Inquiry must look into and report on the systemic causes of all forms of violence against Indigenous women and girls, including sexual violence. We must examine the underlying social, economic, cultural, institutional, and historical causes that contribute to the ongoing violence and particular vulnerabilities of Indigenous women and girls in Canada. The mandate also directs us to look into and report on existing institutional policies and practices to address violence, including those that are effective in reducing violence and increasing safety.
While the formal name of the Inquiry is “the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls,” our mandate covers all forms of violence. This makes our mandate very broad. By not being limited to investigating only cases of Indigenous women who went missing or were murdered, we can include women and girls who died under suspicious circumstances.
It also means we can address issues such as sexual assault, child abuse, domestic violence, bullying and harassment, suicide, and self-harm. This violence is interconnected, and can have equally devastating effects. Expanding the mandate beyond missing and murdered also creates space for more survivors to share their stories. They can help us look to the future from a place of experience, resilience, and hope.
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Indigenous women and Two-Spirit people have traditionally been revered as life-givers and caregivers. This is why we say, “our women and girls are sacred.” But Indigenous women and girls, including those who are 2SLGBTQQIA, continue to be devalued. All too many become the victims of violence.
Our vision for the National Inquiry is to build a foundation that allows Indigenous women and girls to reclaim their power and place.
Because of Indigenous Peoples’ rich diversity, this reclaiming will look different in different places. First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples each have their own distinct cultures, languages, and ways of life. Their communities have their own distinct political, legal, social, cultural, and economic systems. There can be no one-size-fits-all, pan-Indigenous approach. Solutions must instead be culturally appropriate to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit women and girls, their respective communities, and their Nations.
We will find the truth by gathering many stories from many people.
These truths will weave together to show us what violence really looks like for Indigenous women and girls in Canada.
We will gather this information through:
Our research is rooted in Indigenous methodology. It is governed by traditional laws and ethics that affirm the resistance and resurgence of Indigenous women and girls, including 2SLGBTQQIA people. Indigenous women’s experiences will guide our truth every step of the way.
We will honour the truth through public education.
For far too long, Indigenous women and girls have been publicly devalued or ignored. People’s general perceptions have been shaped by harmful colonial stereotypes. People forget that every Indigenous woman or girl—no matter how she died or what she had been through—had an inherent strength and sacred worth. We need to transform the national conversation about Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people. To build a strong foundation for healing, justice, and reconciliation, governments and institutions must change. So must our society’s attitudes and understanding of the issue.
This public education begins by creating opportunities for family members and survivors to share their truths. It continues as Canadians learn more about Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people. Indigenous and non-Indigenous people will have the opportunity to learn about Indigenous women’s rightful power and place: their historical and present-day roles, their leadership, and what they have to contribute. Many of these learning opportunities will take place through the Community, Institutional, Knowledge Keeper and Expert Hearings. We will further honour the truth in our findings, recommendations, and reports, and other public education materials. As much as possible, our information will be published in different audio, visual, and paper formats to make them widely accessible.
Learn more here.
We will give life to the truth by creating a living legacy through commemoration and artistic expressions.
Everyone affected by this issue will have the opportunity to participate in the National Inquiry by submitting an artistic response in whatever medium they choose. This will help create a new public record of history that centres on Indigenous women and girls’ experiences.
Together with family members and communities, we will make recommendations on the best ways to commemorate and honour those we have lost. Public commemoration is a powerful way to make sure that survivors are acknowledged for the suffering they have endured. It also ensures that families can let Canada know that their loved ones were cherished human beings who are still missed.
Most importantly, we will give life to the truth by teaching and learning from our children and youth. We need to give them the best possible supports now, and help them build a safer, stronger foundation for their future.