Records Transfer of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG)

Background

  • In 2016, the National Inquiry (NI) into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), was set up as a Commission of Inquiry (COI, aka “Royal Commission”) to look into and report on the systemic causes of all forms of violence against Indigenous women and girls, including sexual violence.
  • As with other COIs, most of the NI records are considered archival and the Privy Council Office (PCO) is responsible for preparing them for processing and transfer to Library and Archives Canada (LAC) under the LAC Disposition Authority 2015/006.
  • The NI had an unusual legal form, being both a federal inquiry and also an inquiry for each province and territory. As such, its records are nominally subject to 14 different legal jurisdictions. Notwithstanding this legal overlap, the National, Provincial and Territorial Archivists Conference (NPTAC) decided that all the records should reside at LAC.
  • LAC was specifically referenced in the NI’s Final Report: Call to Justice no. 1.11—“We call upon the federal government—specifically, Library and Archives Canada and the Privy Council Office—to maintain and to make easily accessible the National Inquiry’s public record and website.”
  • The NI also accepted artwork as testimony and LAC agreed that this material could be given (alienated) to a museum.

Consideration

  • The NI ceased operations in June 2019 and began transferring its records to PCO in anticipation of their ultimate transfer to LAC.
  • The bulk of NI-MMIWG records have been transferred to PCO, which were stored on a Shared Services Canada server. The final transfer of a few portable data storage devices from MMIWG field staff were pending as of July 2019. In addition, LAC successfully received in August 2019 the hard drives containing the exported social media data from NI-MMIWG as part of LAC’s Web Archive program.
  • The Commission did not complete its recordkeeping work and PCO requires time to organize the records and prepare them for transfer. As most of the records are in digital form, this requires special handling.
  • There may also be legal encumbrances on some of the testimony: sealing orders, confidentiality undertakings (for material containing traumatic subject matter), and promises to return records to certain provinces may have been made. PCO and Justice lawyers have to resolve these before transfer to LAC can occur.
  • PCO appears concerned about administering access requests (under the Privacy Act) for the Commission records, therefore LAC has committed to facilitating the early transfer of the Commission’s records as LAC’s ATIP shop is comfortable assuming the access responsibility.
  • Further to Call to Justice no. 1.11 (see above), PCO and LAC are collaborating to maintain an archived copy of the NI’s website.
  • LAC understands that the legacy art collection is being transferred to the Canadian Museum of Human Rights (CMHR). (Should this not occur, the material is to be transferred to LAC.)

Key public messages

  • LAC aims to retain and preserve as rich a record of the Commission’s work as possible and, as with other LAC collections, including unredacted testimony-containing material with traumatic subject matter.
  • LAC will continue to provide technical and archival appraisal support to PCO to facilitate the timely transfer of the NI records.
  • LAC’s ATIP section will apply the Privacy Act to all requests for access, protecting the privacy of individuals with respect to personal information about themselves held by a government institution, and also provide those individuals with a right of access to that information.

SME:

Candace Loewen, Director, Government Records Initiatives Division
Email: candace.loewen@canada.ca
Tel: 613-617-4581

Andrew Ross, Manager, Government Archives Division
Email: andrew.ross4@canada.ca
Tel: 613-790-2652

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