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Results: 1 - 15 of 78
View MaryAnn Mihychuk Profile
Lib. (MB)
I'd like to call to order the meeting of the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs of the 42nd Parliament, first session, and this is meeting number 68.
Before we begin, I'd like to recognize that we are on the unceded traditional territory of the Algonquin people, a very important recognition especially as we've started as a nation to understand the truth of our history and move to reconciliation. It's so important that we now have the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in front of us today.
We want to hear from you. We recognize the very significant work you are doing in that process of reconciliation. Meegwetch.
To move forward, we will proceed with the commission presenting for 10 minutes, and then we go through a series of questions. The first round is seven minutes each. The second round is five minutes. It will alternate with the MPs here. It is quite structured, but I will try to be flexible, and I will give you signals if we're coming close to the end so that you can wrap up.
I wish to begin the procedures. I know a lot of people want to hear from you. I turn over the floor to you. Welcome.
Marion Buller
View Marion Buller Profile
Marion Buller
2017-09-21 11:02
Good morning, Madam Chair and members of this committee. Thank you for inviting us to appear before you today to speak about the progress we're making in the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
I'm Marion Buller. I'm the chief commissioner. With me today are my esteemed colleagues and fellow commissioners, Michèle Audette, Brian Eyolfson, and Qajaq Robinson.
This is the first time we've had the opportunity to appear before you to report on our work, our very important work, and it's important to note that we are now a few weeks into the second year of our two-year and four-month mandate.
The tragedy of our missing and murdered indigenous women and girls is felt so deeply and painfully by indigenous families, but it is also a painful legacy felt by all Canadians. Parliament and the Prime Minister of Canada have chosen to finally address this terrible legacy. The profound commitment of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls is to listen to those who have suffered, to share their stories with all Canadians, and to learn what we can do to prevent other families from experiencing such suffering.
We are not inventing our mission on our own. Rather, we have been given the mandate by the government, with detailed terms of reference. These terms of reference were written following extensive consultations with indigenous communities across Canada, survivors of violence, and the families of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. Those consultations have very strongly informed our terms of reference.
The terms of reference were adopted by all of the provinces and territories, so that makes us truly a national inquiry.
In fulfilling its mandate, the national inquiry is subject to the structures of working in the federal government. We have to adhere to the human resources, information technology, and contracting rules that apply to all areas of government. The national inquiry is not alone in finding these rules frustrating. Constructing the national inquiry was time-consuming; simultaneously, however, stakeholders were expecting urgent engagement and attention to the matters that so deeply concern them.
The good news is that despite the many challenges to the national inquiry, we are on track in getting our staff, offices, technology, and networks in place, and that's to deal with the important, painful substance of our work.
At the same time, the national inquiry research team has done a comprehensive review of related work and has assessed what has been done and not done by governments to follow up on the findings of the various reports and studies. It was essential to conduct this assessment so this national inquiry can take stock, learn from what has worked and what hasn't worked, and map out its own areas of emphasis so as to get the most value possible from all of our engagements, reflections, and ultimately, recommendations.
This has been a difficult year, and for many people, our progress has been too slow, but we wanted to do this right because we know there are risks associated with doing this work quickly and superficially.
There are four principles that apply to our work.
First, we want to empower and support people, not revictimize them. We are finding, of course, that the survivors of violence and the families of people who have been victimized and lost have undergone tremendous trauma. Therefore, we are not going to go into communities and asking people to put themselves at further psychological risk by talking about their experiences unless we are sure that we can provide them with the supports they need. We have put a health team in place, educated our national inquiry staff on trauma-related issues and service delivery, and of course we have adopted a trauma-informed approach to our work.
Second, we want to find solutions together, not impose them. In other words, we want to take a decolonized approach.
Indigenous people in Canada have been subjected to the colonial policies and agendas of the French, the English, and the Canadian governments. For hundreds of years, experts have sought to solve the “Indian problem” through a series of imposed solutions. No one ever seriously thought to consult with the indigenous people—let alone indigenous women specifically—about missionary work, reserves, the pass system, the Indian Act, forced relocations, or the child welfare system, simply because they did not trust indigenous people to run their own lives.
We want our work to continue to contribute to the resilience and revitalization of indigenous people. We believe that the most effective strategies will come from indigenous communities and nations themselves.
We committed ourselves to identify and follow specific cultural protocols when working with communities. We will ensure that we are welcome in a community before we go there. This takes time and effort, but it is essential to engage truly with communities.
Third, we want to include those who need to be heard. The families of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls are often left feeling excluded and shut out by the police, the courts, social workers, and the media. We define families broadly by what we term “families of the heart”. These include foster families, adoptive families, and close friends. We recognize the importance of including indigenous women who are LGBTQ, non-binary, or two-spirited in our work.
Fourth, we want to build on the good work already done and not reinvent the wheel. We're not studying indigenous women, girls, LGBTQ2S people. We are studying the systemic causes of the violence they have experienced and the efforts and the policies of governments and agencies in response to violence. We have analyzed 100 reports containing about 1,200 recommendations. This is the most comprehensive literature review concerning existing reports, studies, and articles on violence against indigenous women and girls that has been completed to date.
As commissioners, we have collectively and individually been meeting with and taking advice from survivors, families of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, our national family advisory circle, elders, knowledge keepers, young people, experts, academics, and representatives of national, indigenous, local, and feminist organizations.
Much of this work—the consulting, developing policy, hiring and training staff, and reviewing and analyzing reports—has gone on behind the scenes, but we are confident that this time and effort has been well spent. The work of the national inquiry is becoming increasingly public. Throughout the summer our staff members have been visiting communities across the country and will continue that outreach.
To talk about what we have done, I turn now to Commissioner Audette.
Michèle Audette
View Michèle Audette Profile
Michèle Audette
2017-09-21 11:11
Thank you very much.
[The witness speaks in the Innu language.]
When we were given this mandate, which is very near and dear to my heart, we knew it would not be easy, that there would be challenges, and that we would have to be sure to do the work properly.
We do not want the inquiry to be limited to a few quick consultations, for things to be done hastily, and to end up with a poorly prepared report destined to be shelved with all the other reports.
In closing, it is extremely important to tell you that the commissioners and the team supporting them is made up of 60 people who are extremely dedicated to this major cause. We feel the pressure every day, from within and from outside. We know that and will continue to make sure that the work is done properly for indigenous women and girls.
Marion Buller
View Marion Buller Profile
Marion Buller
2017-09-21 11:12
Thank you.
In conclusion, Madam Chair and members, the loss of indigenous women and girls to all forms of violence is a national tragedy. It has traumatized generations of families. Shining a light on all of the causes of violence, murders, and disappearances is a daunting task. We intend to continue that with our community hearings, expert panels, and institutional hearings.
This work is necessary. We will expose the hard truths. The road ahead, we know, will be rocky. All of us can and must act together to create a better future for indigenous women and girls.
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
View Gary Anandasangaree Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Commissioners, welcome. Thank you for joining us this morning. I know your schedule is quite hectic, given that hearings resume next week, so in that context, I think it's even more appreciated that you are here today to discuss the issues surrounding the commission and the work that you are mandated to do.
I want to start with the interim report I think you have to deliver in the fall. There's some confusion as to whether sufficient work has gone into that report. In your mind, you believe that the commission has undertaken enough work to be able to report something substantive as of this fall.
Marion Buller
View Marion Buller Profile
Marion Buller
2017-09-21 11:13
Madam Chair, I'm very pleased to take a moment to talk about our interim report. I can't, of course, divulge the precise content of that report, but I am satisfied, especially based on the work that our research team has done and our experiences in Whitehorse, that we have a good body of knowledge and research to rely on for our interim report.
Thank you.
View Gary Anandasangaree Profile
Lib. (ON)
With respect to the nature and the scope of the work that you're mandated to do, there's been some confusion with respect to policing and the role of police in the entire mandate of the commission. Can you elaborate as to where policing fits into this, what kind of engagement you've had with the police, if you've had a cross-section of different police services co-operating with you, or if you're getting some push-back from these departments?
Marion Buller
View Marion Buller Profile
Marion Buller
2017-09-21 11:14
Madam Chair, I'm glad to have the opportunity to address the issue of policing. In the interests of time, I'll be concise in my response.
We have always intended to investigate policing, and I think the best way of describing it succinctly is that we intend to investigate the investigations. We have already commenced our engagement with police services across Canada, specifically the RCMP, OPP, Thunder Bay police, and more in the works, to obtain documents from them. So far, the agencies have been very co-operative and forthcoming about their files.
In terms of engagement also, I have a forensic investigation team who will review police files to look at patterns for investigations, patterns of interviewing techniques, and things of that nature.
View Gary Anandasangaree Profile
Lib. (ON)
Just probing on that a bit further with respect to the RCMP, which I believe have jurisdiction over a number of different areas across the country, can you elaborate on what type of co-operation you have had with them, if you're able to share that in a public forum?
Marion Buller
View Marion Buller Profile
Marion Buller
2017-09-21 11:16
Yes. Our legal team in particular has been meeting with representatives of the RCMP to discuss the nature of the files that they're seeking, to make arrangements for a data management privacy protection, and things of that nature. The RCMP has been, as I've said, very forthcoming and co-operative.
View Gary Anandasangaree Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Commissioner, one of the challenges with respect to the commission appears to be communication and concerns over the way communications have been undertaken with respect to families and the overall scope of the work. Can you elaborate on what kinds of processes you have in place now that will sharpen the level of communication that you will have going forward?
Marion Buller
View Marion Buller Profile
Marion Buller
2017-09-21 11:17
I'll be blunt. Our communications have been lacking, but we're moving forward in a very aggressive and strategic manner. First of all, our community relations teams are on the ground in communities every day. We have also gone to contract with a communications adviser to help back up and support our communications team.
View Gary Anandasangaree Profile
Lib. (ON)
With respect to what is reported as staffing challenges—obviously there are legal and privacy implications—are you able to share with us your going-forward strategy on staffing and how you were going to rev up to a full complement of staff to support the work you do?
Marion Buller
View Marion Buller Profile
Marion Buller
2017-09-21 11:18
We are hiring staff across Canada. I don't know if it would be accurate to say “daily”. I would hate to be inaccurate in that regard. Of course, we're looking at having to have staff on the ground all across Canada, which creates challenges in itself, but we're finding ways of meeting those challenges in a very productive way.
View Gary Anandasangaree Profile
Lib. (ON)
At what point will you have a full complement of staff, or do you already have a full complement that will allow you to complete the work in a timely manner?
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