Renata D’Aliesio summarizes the ups and downs of the MMIWG (missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls) inquiry, including their most recent request for an extension to their mandate to deliver their report.

Getting Started

Appropriate Subject Area(s):

Social studies, current events, history

Key Questions to Explore:

  • What is reason for the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls?

New Terminology:

MMIWG, indigenous, interim, disproportionate

Materials Needed:

Globe article, MMIWG Inquiry website;  “Highway of Tears: Wikipedia:”

Study and Discussion Activity

Introduction to lesson and task:

Nearly 1,200 Indigenous women and girls have gone missing, many assumed to have been murdered, in recent decades. For some, perhaps most, their murderers remain at large, and for the others, their whereabouts remain unknown. In spite of requests that it establish an inquiry, the previous federal government was content to let these matters play out as normal criminal investigations. The new government, however, launched such an inquiry and it has been fraught with problems, mostly related to membership on the committee. However, the committee remains in force. It has requested an extension so that it can more completely meet its mandate: 1) to find the truth; 2) to honour the truth; 3) to give life to the truth as a path to healing.

Students can benefit from an overview of the underlying reasons for the inquiry, and its mandate. Following a class discussion, students will work individually to prepare a short report on the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. They will use the article supplied, as well as the official website for the inquiry.

Action (lesson plan and task):

Start a discussion about MMIWG. Consider asking these questions as a way of engaging the class:

  • How many of you knew that nearly 1,200 women and girls have gone missing in Canada, that most of them are believed to have been murdered, and that the vast majority of these crimes remain unsolved?
  • If your mother or sister were one of these women, how would you feel about this situation?
  • How would you feel if you learned that these women are all Indigenous? Would this make a difference as to how you feel? Would racism be a factor in the way the public feels about this issue? Why or why not?

Assign this lesson—in-class or for homework, as you choose:

  • Using the article and websites provided, write a report on the Inquiry into Missing Indigenous Women and Girls, in which you address the following questions and tasks:
    • How many Indigenous women and girls have gone missing or have been murdered in Canada over the last 40 years, and how many perpetrators have been brought to justice? (See article and Wikipedia site for answers)
    • What is the Highway of Tears? Why is it so-named? According to the Wiki site, how many women have been murdered or have gone missing on or near this highway?
    • Why was the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls established?
    • What is the Inquiry’s mandate? (List three goals)
    • List some criticisms of the Inquiry, including some reasons why some members of the commission have resigned.
    • What kinds of issues will the Inquiry look into? (Use Inquiry website. See: FAQ)
    • Will the Inquiry attempt to solve the murders and crimes? If not, what will it do if it finds evidence of a crime or criminal?
    • How would you describe the overall tone of the Inquiry’s mandate? Is it focused more on finding truths and reconciliation, or does it primarily focus on racism? What do you think of this approach?
    • How might systemic racism have played a part in this crisis up to this point?
    • Finally, do you think the Inquiry is important, doing good work, and that it will succeed? Give reasons for your answers.

Consolidation of Learning:

  • When you’ve had a chance to read and grade their reports, engage students in a brief discussion about what they’ve learned, and how they now feel about the issue.
Success and Additional Learning

Success Criteria:

  • Students can explain the rationale behind the creation of the inquiry into MMIWG.

Confirming Activity:

  • Students report on news items about the inquiry.