It is important to remember the spirit and vision of the MMIWG Inquiry now that hearings have closed. In the words of the Elders who opened the Inquiry on August 2 and 3, 2016, we begin in a good way by honoring Creator and giving thanks for the beauty of the day. This also helps keep us grounded. We ask Creator to guide our work. We ask respect for the Spirits and all loved ones as we wait for our own voice to be heard. The circle holds the voice of our ancestors as well as the voice of our children. We come together in love and kindness.
Minister Carolyn Bennett reassured families that all work already done was to be honored – although it was not clear how the 2100 people who participated in preliminary consultations would be represented after they were declared “confidential” to the federal government. The new work of the Inquiry began on September 1st, 2016. I was one of many early participants who was not asked if I wanted my information forwarded to the Inquiry – so I too began again in September.
The mandate of the Inquiry, least we forget, is to examine the systemic causes of all forms of violence and vulnerability and to recommend concrete actions to remove those systemic causes. Many families gathered to give testimony of their experiences – 763 witnesses were heard with an additional 276 statements taken. Many more are still waiting – about 630 as reported by the Globe and Mail on March 7, 2018.
We know the causes of violence are multiple and that concrete changes must be matched with open hearts. The findings of one Inquiry will not provide a definite answer although we can hope for expanded awareness. Whether or not additional time is granted to the Inquiry, while we wait for the final report, we must not abdicate personal responsibility. We must continue to advocate for the human rights of our sisters and brothers and to celebrate the positive changes already made.