OTTAWA – On Wednesday, the commissioners of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls released its interim report. While the commissioners say it’s “too early” to make concrete recommendations about the core focus, the report highlights the red tape and other administrative difficulties so far in the process, and makes calls for procedural changes that can improve the functioning of the inquiry going forward.

Here’s a look at some highlights from the report:

Interim recommendations for the federal government:

  • Work with the provinces/territories to create a national police task force for the inquiry to refer families and survivors to if they want to review investigations or reopen cold cases.
  • Establish a commemoration fund with stakeholders, artists, and families for initiatives related to missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.
  • Provide the inquiry with the contact information for participants in the pre-inquiry process the government conducted, or have those families and survivors get the contact information for participating in the inquiry.
  • More funding, as well as from the provincial/territorial governments, to improve Indigenous groups’ participation.
  • Expand funding and services related to Health Canada’s resolution health support program in preparation for increased need for supports as a result of the inquiry.
  • Engage with stakeholders, families, and survivors to look into the possibility of bringing back the Aboriginal Healing Foundation.
  • Provide workarounds for the federal administrative rules that have stunted its progress so far, considering the remaining time the inquiry has to fulfill its mandate.

Preliminary conclusions:

  • Political jurisdictions need to work better together, and with Indigenous governance, to improve their application of existing recommendations.
  • The knowledge gap on violence experienced by Metis, two-spirit, and Indigenous LGBTQ people needs to be closed.
  • Inaction on repeated calls for existing recommendations and improving policing practices can be attributed to insufficient funding.

What the commissioners want the federal government to do in the interim:

  • Implement all of the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; Jordan’s Principle; and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  • Fully comply with the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling that found Canada was discriminating against First Nations children based on race.

What to expect in the final report:

Since the inquiry was launched in Sept. 2016, it has travelled the country gathering information, hearing from families, communities, experts, and institutions.

The mandate of the inquiry is to examine and report on the underlying and systemic factors that contribute to violence against Indigenous women and girls in Canada.

The government has dedicated $53.8 million for the inquiry. The commissioners say 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.