National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous women and Girls
“Where We Are At”
On December 8, 2015, the Government of Canada announced the launch of an inquiry to seek recommendations on concrete actions to address and prevent violence against Indigenous women and girls.
The Mandate of the Commissioners:
- The commissioners are required to examine and report on the systemic causes behind the violence that Indigenous women and girls experience, and their greater vulnerability to violence, by looking for patterns and underlying factors that explain why higher levels of violence occur. The commissioners have been mandated to examine the underlying historical, social, economic, institutional and cultural factors that contribute to the violence.
- The commission will examine practices, policies and institutions such as policing, child welfare, coroners and other government policies/ practices or social/economic conditions.
- The commissioners, as part of their mandate, will examine and report on institutional policies and practices that have been put in place as a response to violence, including those that have been effective in reducing violence and increasing the safety of Indigenous women and girls.
We know at Battered Women’s Support Services from extensive experience that over 1,700 recommendations for action have been previously made, and yet only a handful have been put into practice ; Indigenous women and girls in Canada are disproportionately affected by all forms of violence. Although Indigenous women make up 4 per cent of Canada’s female population, 16 per cent of all women murdered in Canada between 1980 and 2012 were Indigenous. While homicide rates for non-Indigenous women in Canada are declining, the homicide rate for Indigenous women has remained unchanged. Underlying causes, such as socioeconomic factors like poverty and homelessness as well as historical factors like racism, sexism and the legacy of Colonial practices and the impacts and intergenerational impacts of the residential school system are other reasons Indigenous women and girls experience disproportionate rates of violence. To summarize “Canada has a war against our women”
A message from the National Inquiry:
“Our women and girls (including heterosexual, Two Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer, and those with disabilities or special needs) are sacred. We would like to recognize every single family member and loved one of the missing or murdered Indigenous women, girls and LGBTQ2S people in Canada. We want to express our deepest sympathies for your loss and we are grateful for every story that you will choose to share with us in the search for truth.”
About Battered Women Support Services Involvement:
Battered Women Support Services has been standing in solidarity with Indigenous women across Turtle Island in calling for a National Inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada since before British Columbia’s Missing Women’s Commission of Inquiry (MWCI). On top of running a crisis line and offering legal, advocacy and counselling services, Battered Womens Support Services is actively involved in a coalition on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls formulated out of the failure of both group and family participation in the MWCI. Our efforts working in western Canada and northwest British Columbia through an initiative called Women’s Leadership and Training brought together Indigenous women to organize local responses to violence toward We are an active long-time member of the February 14th Women’s Memorial March committee to honour Indigenous women who have lost their lives to violence in downtown eastside Vancouver.
The Recommendations Battered Women Support Services Made to the Ministers last year about whose voice must be included:
The following groups must have an opportunity to meaningfully participate in the inquiry process:
- The families, adopted families and families of the heart and community members of Indigenous women and girls who have experienced violence must be able to participate in the inquiry to share their experiences of the broad-reaching impacts of violence as well as how the police and justice system responded to their experiences.
- Indigenous women and girls who have experienced and/or are currently experiencing violence: Indigenous women must be central participants in the inquiry process, as well as organizations that represent the interests of Indigenous women, people and organizations that work directly with them and those that advocate on their behalf.
- Women’s-led and women serving organizations, service providers, outreach and support workers, and advocates whose expertise and service mandates in the issues facing murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls must be able to both provide support to and represent women and girls directly affected by the issues.
- Indigenous communities and Indigenous organizations must be fully included in the inquiry given that they are integrally connected to the murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls, and have critical and unique experiences that draw upon their intimate first-hand knowledge of the very same racism, sexism and colonialism that the inquiry will be examining.
- Experts in socio-economic marginalization and systemic discrimination based on race and gender must participate in the inquiry process so that the inquiry can take advantage of existing expertise on these issues.
Battered Women Support Services is honored to say we will be applying for standing within the National Inquiry into missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. And would like to encourage and support family members, loved ones, and survivors to reach out and identify themselves to the commission.
How to contact the Commission:
Please email the National Inquiry at
Include your name, contact information, and location. A member of the team will contact you.
Your testimony is wanted and needed!
Battered Women Support Services is dedicated and committed to finding ways of providing support to you if you choose to participate in the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous women and girls. In addition, we are committed to finding ways to foster, strengthen, support, and encourage Indigenous women who are stepping up and leading in their home communities to provide these essential services and support while walking alongside family members, and survivors through the National Inquiry process and along their healing journey after the Inquiry. If you would prefer to participate with our support in contacting the Commission, please contact our crisis line at 604-687-1867, complete an intake and ask for an appointment with a woman from our Indigenous Women’s Program team.