National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls


February  28, 2015 Ottawa, ON:  Indigenous  families and leaders, Premiers, provincial and territorial Ministers and  representatives and Ministers from the Government of Canada met yesterday in  Ottawa on needed action to prevent and address violence against Indigenous  women and girls.

Indigenous women and girls  are three times more likely to be victims of violence than non-Indigenous  women.   In May 2014, the RCMP released a  National Operational Overview on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women.   The research identified 1,181 missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canadian  police databases between 1980 and 2012; of those 1,017 were murdered, and there  are 164 investigations of missing Aboriginal women dating back to 1952. 
In an unprecedented gathering, the National Roundtable on Missing and  Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls included representatives from families of  missing and murdered Indigenous women, the Assembly  of First Nations, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, the Native Women’s  Association of Canada, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Pauktuutit Inuit Women of  Canada, Métis National Council, Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak / Women of the  Métis Nation, all provinces and territories and the federal  government.  

Delegates committed to ongoing dialogue and coordinated  action in priority areas, including prevention and awareness, community safety,  policing measures and justice responses. Specific outcomes include the  commitment to gather again in 2016 to assess progress.  
The National Roundtable is a result of support expressed by Premiers at a  meeting with National Aboriginal Organizations in August 2014.


Three priority areas were the focus of roundtable discussion and delegates  agreed to coordinate efforts toward tangible and immediate action in each.  

  • Prevention  and Awareness    
    • Raising public awareness aimed at changing       attitudes that devalue Indigenous women and girls and the contributions of       Indigenous Peoples as an educational tool for violence prevention.
    • Reducing the marginalization of Indigenous       women and girls by improving socio-economic development and outcomes.
    • Improving prevention and responses to violence       within intimate relationships and families.
  •  Community  Safety    
    • Supporting Indigenous communities,       organizations and individuals to develop safety initiatives that respond       to their unique cultural, traditional and socio-economic needs and       realities.
    • Engaging communities, governments,       organizations and institutions, in supporting prevention, action, and       intervention when violence has occurred.
    • Supporting and addressing safety and healing of       individuals, families and communities.
  • Policing  Measures and Justice Responses    
    • Improving the relationship between justice       sector professionals, including police, and Indigenous Peoples and       strengthening community-based policing in Indigenous communities.
    • Identifying strategies within the justice       system to protect and assist Indigenous women and girls who are victims of       violence.

Outcomes and Next Steps:

Delegates of the National Roundtable commit to continuing to work  together in coordinating action to prevent and end violence against Indigenous  women and girls, including the commitment to a second National Roundtable to be  held in 2016.  All Parties committed to  working directly with Indigenous communities and organizations to move forward  on Roundtable commitments to discuss efforts underway, progress and areas for  further focus.  Parties to the National  Roundtable commit to using their respective reporting and accountability  mechanisms to report on their activities and progress and will increase efforts  at enhanced public reporting, and sharing information on effective  collaboration efforts both within and across jurisdictions, organizations and  communities.  

Parties to the National Roundtable further committed to the development  of a prevention and awareness campaign and accepted an invitation from the  Province of Manitoba to host an inaugural forum to explore best practices and  better coordinate and share information on policing and justice responses.  

Ceremonial Family  Witness Judy Maas from Blueberry River First Nation:  “We will idle no more  as our sisters, mothers, daughters, aunties, and grandmothers go missing and  continue to be violated by any type of violence.  We will no longer remain invisible.  We will take our rightful place.  Our voices are the voices of those who have  suffered.  Our children deserve better.  We expect nothing less than a formal commitment by governments to implement the  recommendations being heard.”

Minister of Labour and  Minister of Status of Women Dr. K. Kellie Leitch, P.C., O.Ont., M.P.:  “Our Government understands the heavy toll  that violence has on victims, families, and communities. That’s why we are  committed to taking concrete actions that address family violence and violent  crimes against Aboriginal women and girls. And because everyone has a role to  play, the Government of Canada will continue working collaboratively with  provinces and territories, Aboriginal families, communities and organizations,  to address this important issue.” 

Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Bernard Valcourt:  “Our Government recognizes that addressing  violence against Aboriginal women is a shared responsibility that requires  commitment to action from all partners, including at the community level. By  meeting today and continuing to work together, we are sending a strong message  that these abhorrent acts of violence will not be tolerated.”

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde: “I commend  the strength of the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls  and the leadership of Indigenous organizations, provinces, territories and the  federal government for coming together for this unprecedented gathering.   Ending violence must be a national priority and we must work together to ensure  to uphold the fundamental right to life and security for every Indigenous woman  and girl and to live free of discrimination.  The commitments we made  today must translate into action on the ground to keep Indigenous women and  girls safe and secure.  We will continue to work with Indigenous families,  organizations and all levels of governments to end violence and we will  continue the push for a National Public Inquiry to seek justice and to move on  long-term solutions.”

Congress of Aboriginal  Peoples National Chief Betty Ann Lavallée: “This meeting  was a constructive step forward, but there is much more to do.  The  spirits of our sisters will not rest until justice is done and neither will  we.”

Inuit Tapiriit  Kanatami President Terry Audla: “There is no one-size-fits all approach to  addressing some of the significant issues we have been wrestling with today.  Inuit welcome the commitments reached at this meeting and look forward to  working with provincial, territorial and federal governments to develop  specific means of addressing our most pressing needs, respecting the fact that  violence has a human cost, and it also has an economic cost. Inuit live in some  of the most remote communities in Canada, and the delivery of and access to  programs and services in our homeland will always cost more than it does to  provide those same programs and services in Southern Canada.”

Métis  National Council President Clément Chartier: Métis National Council President  Clément Chartier: “The Métis Nation is pleased to witness the forward movement  on addressing this most critical matter.  The issue of murdered and  missing Aboriginal women and girls has been plaguing our communities for far  too long and concrete solutions must be explored and implemented.  I  congratulate the leadership of both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal governments  and organizations for taking this progressive step and thank the affected  families for their continued determination to seek the justice this violation  of life is demanding."

Les Femmes Michif  Otipemisiwak / Women of the Métis Nation President Melanie Omeniho: "I  acknowledge the work that has been achieved by bringing together the National  Aboriginal Organizations, provinces, territories,  the federal government  and representatives from the families of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women  for this unique meeting. The life, safety and security of Indigenous women,  which includes Metis women is a priority for Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak. It  is an exceptional opportunity to work with other Aboriginal representative  organizations and the various levels of government to build on a collective  action plan that will assist us in addressing the overwhelming issues that  result from the level of violence that some Indigenous women have been a victim  of."

Native  Women’s Association of Canada Interim Action President Dr. Dawn Harvard: “We must work  together – Aboriginal Peoples and all levels Governments to put in place  measures that protect Aboriginal women and girls. Anything less is a denial of  our basic human rights. The provinces and territories and Aboriginal Peoples  have all supported the call for a national public inquiry and now we need to  work together, along with the Federal Government to implement a comprehensive,  national framework of action to end violence!”

Pauktuutit Inuit Women  of Canada President Rebecca Kudloo: “We know that Inuit  women and children are at the greatest risk of violence in their homes and our  members feel prevention is the most important and urgent issue to be addressed  after this roundtable. They have told us that unresolved trauma and abuse is  the most significant underlying cause to be addressed, and we look forward to a  whole-of-government response in working together to address this major physical  and mental health issue.”

Alberta Legislative  Secretary for Aboriginal Education and Jobs, Skills, and Training Pearl  Calahasen:
“The discussions we had at today’s national roundtable were incredibly  valuable. The Alberta government remains committed to taking action on the  issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls by continuing its work  with Aboriginal leaders, communities and organizations to find solutions. ”

British  Columbia Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation John Rustad:  “This  significant gathering has resulted in a level of discussion never seen before  and I thank the family members of missing and murdered Aboriginal women who  dedicated their time and displayed great courage telling their stories. The  B.C. government has taken action on all major themes from our provincial  Missing Women Commission of Inquiry and we will continue to work with our  Aboriginal partners on the systemic changes needed to create a legacy of safety  for Aboriginal women and girls. This work, and our efforts nationwide, will be  enriched by today’s dialogue.”

Manitoba Premier Gregory Selinger: “This roundtable is about the families from across the  country who have suffered an unimaginable and tragic loss.  Mothers,  daughter, sisters and wives have been taken from them and their families are  left behind to pick up the pieces. For some families, they have the  heartbreaking task of caring for children who will never see their mothers  again.  This gathering helps us to move forward on addressing the critical  issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada.”

New Brunswick Minister Responsible for the Aboriginal Affairs  Secretariat Dr. Ed. Doherty M.D.: “Violence  against Aboriginal women and girls impacts Aboriginal communities and families  throughout New Brunswick. We are pleased to have this opportunity to work  together and stimulate discussion and collaboration in addressing violence  against aboriginal women and girls not only in New Brunswick, but across the  country”.

Newfoundland  and Labrador Minister of Justice and Public Safety and Attorney General Judy  Manning: “In 2014, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador supported a  provincial, all-party resolution calling for a national inquiry into missing  and murdered Aboriginal women and girls. We are prepared to work with the  Government of Canada on such an initiative and committed to cooperating with  all jurisdictions to eliminate all forms of violence against Aboriginal women  and girls. We acknowledge those families and individuals that attended the  Family and Peoples Gatherings, and we thank them for having the courage to  share their stories.”

Northwest  Territories Premier Bob Mcleod: “Our experience in the Northwest Territories is that  we are stronger and more successful when we work together as partners. This has  been at the foundation of our commitment to engage with Aboriginal governments  and organizations in the spirit of respect, recognition and responsibility. As  the Chair of the National Roundtable I am very encouraged by the willingness of  all the participants to engage in a meaningful national dialogue about concrete  action and solutions to address the crisis of violence against Indigenous women  and girls.”

Nova Scotia’s Minister of Community Services and Status of Women  Joanne Bernard: “I am honoured to  have participated in this important and timely discussion. I urge all Canadians  to become more engaged and aware as we move to address the disproportionate  rates of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls.”

Nunavut  Minister of Family Services Jeannie Ugyuk: “Keeping Indigenous women and girls safe and  well is a shared, national responsibility; one that can no longer be ignored. I  am humbled to have been part of today’s gathering. On behalf of the Government  of Nunavut, I commit to working towards a framework to end this violence once  and for all.”

Ontario Premier Kathleen  Wynne: “Too many Aboriginal women and girls have  experienced violence, been murdered or gone missing. This loss not only affects  aboriginal communities across the country, but Canada as a whole. I am proud  that Ontario has joined leaders across Canada to ensure that Aboriginal women  and girls can live safely and reach their full potential.”

Prince Edward Island Minister of Community Services and Seniors  and Minister Responsible for the Status of Women Valerie E. Docherty:  “Now is the time to  take action and address the crisis of the disproportionate number of  indigenous women and girls who are missing or murdered in Canada. By working  together respectfully we can improve the lives of Indigenous women,  girls and their families. I am hopeful that the work accomplished today will  initiate collaborative efforts from all levels of government and Aboriginal  organizations that will result in achievable action items.”

Quebec Minister responsible for  Native Affairs Geoffrey Kelley, and Minister of Justice Ms. Stéphanie Vallée:  “In August 2014, during the meetings  of the Council of the Federation, the Government of Quebec supported the  proposal by First Nations members that a national roundtable be created to  study the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women.  We are already  working on the wide variety of issues that arise from violence against  Indigenous women with First Nations organizations in Québec, but we know that  we can always do more.  Our presence here today is a reflection of our willingness  to collaborate with the other provinces as well as the federal government to  share our resources and our experiences so as to end violence against  Indigenous women and girls.”

Saskatchewan Minister of Justice and Attorney General Gordon  Wyant:  “I’m  proud of the services offered in Saskatchewan to help address violence against  Aboriginal women and girls, as well as initiatives geared towards prevention and  awareness. We recognize that more needs to be done and by working together, we  can share ideas and develop appropriate responses to reduce the risk of  violence against Aboriginal women across the country.”

Yukon Premier Darrell  Pasloski:  “On behalf of the Government of Yukon and all Yukoners, I  reaffirm our commitment to preventing violence against Aboriginal women and  girls. I also want to acknowledge the strength and resilience of the family  members who attended the roundtable, and the determination of everyone here to  create communities where Aboriginal women and girls are safe.”



Patricia D’Souza, Senior  Communications Officer, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, 613-292-4482 mobile

Daniel Wilson, Director of  Policy and Media Relations, Congress of Aboriginal Peoples 613-747-6022 ext 202  OR 613-809-8147 mobile

Claudette  Dumont-Smith, Executive Director, Native Women's Association of Canada,  613-722-3033 ext. 223 or OR Gail Gallagher 613-722-3033 ext. 225, 613-290-5680

Jenna Young Castro  Communications Officer, Assembly of First Nations, 613-314-8157 mobile

Alain Garon, Bilingual  Communications Officer, Assembly of First Nations 613-292-0857 mobile