National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls


Notes for an address by

The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, PC, QC, MP
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

Location: Gatineau, Que.: August 3, 2016

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Good morning. Gilakas'la. Bonjour tout le monde.

Thank you everyone for joining us today.

And thank you Claudette for welcoming us to the traditional territory of the Algonquin people.

It is a pleasure to be here with Minister Bennett and Minister Hajdu, along with Elders for today's historic announcement.

I would like to begin by saying how deeply moved I was to be part of the gathering this morning -- in which a beautiful box representing all Indigenous groups in Canada was given to the Inquiry commissioners in the presence of the families.

This symbolic passing of the torch represents the momentous duty that Canadians have entrusted to the commissioners.

As my colleague Minister Bennett mentioned, the National Inquiry will focus on the root causes of the disproportionate rates of violent crime faced by Indigenous women and girls, and on the extent of their vulnerability to violence.

We need to identify the causes of those disparities and take action now to end them. As I said when the pre-inquiry began in December, the Government of Canada is committed to doing better, but it will take action by many to reach that common goal.

And, as we ceremoniously passed the torch, we are asking the Commission to help Canadians learn from our past, review our present, and recommend actions we can take, moving forward, to end this national tragedy.

In the pre-inquiry sessions held across the country, some of the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls told us they wanted to know more about what had happened to their loved ones, but found it hard to get the information. To help them get that information, the Department of Justice will immediately increase financial assistance to the provinces and territories.

Specifically, the Department will provide $11.67 million over three years to help the provinces and territories establish new Family Information Liaison Units within their existing victim services departments. When these units are established, they will work directly with families and with local, provincial and territorial agencies and governments, to help families find the information they seek about the loss of their loved one.

In addition, these units will help families deal with the trauma of their pain and loss and connect them with available resources.

The Department of Justice will also allocate an additional $4.5 million over four years to support victim services projects across the country that will directly help the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. This funding will help fill gaps where needs are high, building on the work of Indigenous organizations and specialized victim services programs.

The services these new funds support will complement the Inquiry's objective of–and the Government of Canada's commitment to–promoting reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

We know that an Inquiry cannot undo the injustices of the past nor restore what has been lost.

But it can contribute to the way forward on this journey of reconciliation.

Thank you. Gilakas'la.

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