(August 3, 2016) — Today, on behalf of Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) citizens and Métis communities from across Ontario, MNO President Margaret Froh commends the Government of Canada for launching an independent national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. The inquiry is set to begin September 1, 2016 and will run until December 31, 2018.

“It is very clear that momentum has been building in our communities and across Canada in the last few years to address violence that has affected Métis, First Nations and Inuit peoples,” said President Froh. “The MNO has participated in the pre-inquiry process towards a national inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Now that the inquiry has officially begun, our support and commitment to this important cause will remain constant and unwavering. We will continue to work with all parties to ensure that Métis families and voices are present in all stages of the inquiry.”

“Today’s announcement marks more than a decade of hard work and public education by families and the organizations that support them, and we want to acknowledge all those that have contributed to getting us this far,” said Sharon Cadeau, Chair of the Women’s Secretariat of the MNO.

This announcement is a clear commitment by the Federal Government as well as all Provinces and Territories that ending violence against Indigenous women and girls is a national priority and a Canadian issue. The Inquiry’s Terms of Reference are also historic as this is the first time all provinces and territories have signed onto an inquiry making it a truly national one. We look forward to the coming months when the Inquiry will be visiting communities and gathering evidence, ensuring that the MNO will be there.

The national inquiry will be led by British Columbia’s first female First Nations judge, Marion Buller, as Chief Commissioner. Buller will work alongside a five-member panel, which includes Marilyn Poitras—a Métis constitutional and Aboriginal law expert from the University of Saskatchewan. “We are very pleased with the appointment of Judge Buller, Marilyn Poitras, Brian Eyolfson and the other Commissioners on their appointments,” stated President Froh. “The commission will be undertaking a challenging and critical role on behalf of all Canadians. We wish them, and all the families and communities that will be participating in the inquiry process, the best as this work of the inquiry moves forward.”

The commission will be responsible for examining the systemic causes of violence and will make recommendations on how to increase the safety of Indigenous women and girls in Canada. They will also make recommendations on how to commemorate missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. They will provide their recommendations to the Government of Canada in an interim report in fall 2017 and a final report in December 2018.

“It is imperative that Métis communities and Ontario ministries and agencies work together to support and rally behind the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. The MNO has been a very active member of Ontario’s Joint Working Group on Indigenous Women, and is fully committed to implementing Walking Together: Ontario’s Long-Term Strategy to End Violence Against Indigenous Women,” said President Froh. “The MNO offers many different programs and services aimed at preventing, addressing and ending violence against Métis women and children. I encourage any individuals or families that have felt the mental, physical, emotional and/or spiritual impacts of victimization to seek out our services.”

The MNO has long called for an end to gender-based violence that affects our communities through concrete actions, including with the unanimous 2014 AGA Resolution Calling for a National Inquiry on Murdered and Missing Aboriginal Women, and the adoption of the MNO Declaration to End Violence Against Aboriginal Women (VAAW). As part of the MNO’s Honouring Métis Women education campaign, Métis communities host vigils, feasts and celebrations to honour Métis women, girls and Two-Spirit people who have experienced violence.

To learn more about the national inquiry, please visit the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada website.

The MNO is the representative government of Métis Nation citizens and Métis communities throughout Ontario.