Today, with both a sense of hope and heavy hearts, we made our final written submissions to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. We are grateful to the Indigenous women who fought long and hard to make this Inquiry happen and to ensure that their stories were told. It is their voices who must continue to ground this work.

There is a crisis of violence against Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit people in this country. Ample evidence at the Inquiry showed that taking children away from their families and their communities is a key factor in the multi-generational perpetuation of violence.

That’s why our closing submissions focused on recommendations to ensure that the systems that are designed to protect children are not the very systems that make them more vulnerable to violence.

For the past few years, we have participated in the National Inquiry. At times, we’ve had misgivings about the process and we spoke up to express those concerns. At times, we’ve questioned what our contribution should be as a non-Indigenous legal organization staffed almost entirely by settler Canadians.

We know that unless we are part of the solution, we are part of the problem. So we have dedicated ourselves, with humility and conviction, to working alongside our Indigenous partners to decolonize our gender analysis and contribute to the fight for safety and human rights of Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit people.

Over the course of the past two years, the Inquiry, and the country, heard ample evidence of the resilience and resistance of Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit people. West Coast LEAF views our role in the Inquiry as having provided guidance to the commissioners on how to take the evidence and expertise that has been gathered to create practical recommendations that will lead to meaningful and transformative change.

We know that the causes of all forms of violence against Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit people are inextricably bound up in Canada’s colonial project and ongoing gender-based oppression in our society.

To watch our oral closing submissions (at 48:52), click here.