As we approach October 4, the day set aside to publicly remember murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls in Canada, The United Church of Canada offers the Commissioners of the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls our prayerful support in the difficult work ahead.
We also reiterate our concern, first communicated to Prime Minister Trudeau and Ministers Bennett, Wilson-Raybould, and Hajdu in December 2015, that the Inquiry “continue to pay special attention to the voices of the families of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls.”
Families have clearly expressed their desire that the Inquiry examine police attitudes and conduct with respect to Indigenous women both before and after these women have gone missing. While that focus has not been expressly named in the Terms of Reference, the Minister of Indigenous Affairs and Northern Development is on record as saying that it is up to the commission to “put teeth” into those terms. She has also said that she expects the full cooperation of police services, and Chief Commissioner Marion Buller has also expressed her cautious optimism that this will be the case.
The many members of the United Church who will once again gather on October 4 to remember and advocate for the missing share that hope. This year, for the first time, we sense that we may finally have answers to families’ questions and concrete solutions to ensure that this tragic story comes to a definitive end. Full, independent examination of police attitudes and conduct, and clear recommendations for the police moving forward, are an essential part of healing the wounds of those who suffer now, and of preventing further suffering and injustice.
In closing, I would like to share a portion of the prayer that we will be using in the coming days. It is a prayer not just for those who are lost to us, but also for those who remain behind, faithfully and persistently urging us toward justice.
Remember your beloved children, Creator;
remember the grandmas, mothers, sisters, aunties, partners, and friends
who have been viciously taken from their communities.
Remember the loved ones who miss them;
remember the faithful who have continually prayed to you
throughout the seasons and throughout the years,
and join our prayers with them.
All My Relations,
The Rt. Rev. Jordan Cantwell, Moderator, The United Church of Canada
Photo credit: Wolf Kutnahorsky