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Missing and murdered indigenous women and girls commission

The Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Government of Canada, ordered a national inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, which will begin in September 2016.

Under the Inquiries Act[1], where there is a recommendation to hold an inquiry, the Governor in Council appoints persons as commissioners. These Commissioners have authority to require witnesses to produce documents and other things to permit full investigation of the matters into which they are appointed to examine. To do so, they will be able to subpoena individuals to attend before them just as a tribunal would do in civil cases.

The Commissioners will not act as if they were Crown prosecutors. However, if the Commissioners have reasonable ground to believe that a criminal offence has been committed, they will be able to give the information to the appropriate authority. The names of the five Commissioners were released on August 3rd, 2016. They are the Honourable Marion R. Buller as Chief Commissioner, Michèle Taïna Audette, E. Qajaq Robinson, Marilyn Poitras and Brian Eyolfson.

The Indigenous Affairs Minister, Carolyn Bennet, has released the Terms of Reference for the national Inquiry. Pursuant to the Terms and Reference, among all their duties, the Commissioners will inquire into and to report on:

“systemic causes of all forms of violence — including sexual violence — against Indigenous women and girls in Canada, including underlying social, economic, cultural, institutional and historical causes contributing to the ongoing violence and particular vulnerabilities of Indigenous women and girls in Canada”.

The complete version of the Terms and Reference for the national Inquiry is available on the federal government website.

Furthermore, the Commissioners will have to submit their recommendations through an interim report before November 1st, 2017 and a final report has to be submitted before November 1st, 2018.

The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Commission was one of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and is also a promise kept by the Prime Minister, the Right Honorable Justin Trudeau. The national Inquiry will be theoretically independent from the Federal Government. It will begin on Sept. 1, 2016 and run until Dec. 31, 2018. The estimate cost of the Inquiry is around 53.8 million dollars. The announcement of national Inquiry has been well received by the Indigenous people and hopefully the conclusions will be as well received.

All things considered, the national Inquiry will not bring the victims back to life but will certainly encourage healing.

[1] Inquiries Act R.S.C., 1985, c. I-11