Rhonda Lee McIsaac
Red dresses hang amongst the green cedar trees along the highway at Kay Llnagaay on a frosty October morning. In Gaw, the Old Massett Health Centre hosted a Sisters in Spirit Vigil. Both events honour Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA. The vigils and red dresses are a poignant way to honour the lives of those women and girls. The October 4th vigils started in 2006.
The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls is mandated to examine and report on the systemic causes of all forms of violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA individuals in Canada. The National Inquiry recently wrapped up in Winnipeg MB as testimony keepers and experts testify about Family and Child Welfare. Chief Commissioner Marion Buller and Commissioners Michele Audette, Brian Eyolfson, and Qajaq Robinson oversee the National Inquiry.
Beginning in early May, The National Inquiry has heard from knowledge keepers, experts, and witnesses in Institutional Hearings and Expert Panel Hearings across the country. Experts presented on the topics of Human Rights and Racism in June 2018. Institutional and Knowledge Holder Hearings included testimony from those involved in Government Services, Police Policies and Practices, Family and Child Welfare and lastly Sexual Exploitation and Human Trafficking in late October 2018.
Some of the issues experts identified to Commissioners include hard truths about institutional racism, poverty, addictions, family violence, sexual abuse, lack of funding for programs, inequitable funding where funding does exist, the creation of a have and have not system for those on reserves, lateral violence, and the ongoing effects of Indian Residential School and colonialism. The National Inquiry is entering into its final month of research gathering. It will spend the late fall and early winter analyzing the compiled testimonies and information. A Final Report will be released April 30, 2019.