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  • Protesting members of First Nation's bands form a blockade at the main VIA rail line between Toronto and Ottawa near Marysville, Ontario March 19, 2014.

    Protesting members of First Nation's bands form a blockade at the main VIA rail line between Toronto and Ottawa near Marysville, Ontario March 19, 2014. | Photo: Reuters file

Published 12 April 2019

The Native Women's Association of Canada pointed out that as many as 4,000 Indigenous women and girls have been murdered or are missing.

A Canadian national inquiry report into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls has been concluded following years of hearings and will be released to the public on June 3 in Gatineau, according to a press release from the investigating officials.

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Inquiry commissioners stated that the final report will include findings on the systemic and underlying causes of violence against Indigenous women and girls, and actions to address this violence; policies and practices to reduce violence; and ways to commemorate missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

"Marking a nationally-significant milestone, the closing ceremony and presentation of the final report will signal the dawn of a new day and honor missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, foster the healing of families, survivors and First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities, and build a safer future," the four-person commission’s statement said.

The Native Women's Association of Canada pointed out that as many as 4,000 Indigenous women and girls have been murdered or are missing.

"Criticizing is easy, but now it's up to society, to institutions, leaders and governments to take action," commissioner Michele Audette stated to Radio-Canada, adding that over 10,000 submissions were received on how to address the root causes that lead to violence against Indigenous women. 

The commission noted that the final report will target government institutions that "harm Indigenous women," including relations with police, child protection services and the mass incarceration of Indigenous people.

"There needs to be a political and social willpower if we want things to change," Audette added. "It's not just up to a band council chief, or a mayor, it has to be carried by several people." 

The inquiry’s report was compiled from the accounts of more than 1,500 family members, survivors, "knowledge-keepers," experts and other officials who testified at the 24 hearings and events held between 2017 and 2018.

In November 2017, the commission released an interim report, highlighting the difficulties in the process.

That initial report drew some preliminary conclusions, including recommending that the various levels of political jurisdictions work more harmoniously, and with Indigenous governance to more effectively apply existing recommendations.

The commission conducting the inquiry had requested an extension to 2020 but was only granted an additional six months, by Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett, within which to wrap up the probe into the disappearances and murders.

The Canadian government first allotted US$53.8 million for the inquiry but has since announced additional monies as well as a $10 million commemoration fund.

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