Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith for the opportunity to reaffirm the government's commitment to ending the ongoing national tragedy, recognizing that I do so on traditional territory of the Algonquin nation on the eve of National Aboriginal Day in Canada.
Our government is committed to ending the ongoing national tragedy of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. We are the first government to recognize that this is indeed a tragedy. We have launched a truly independent inquiry that is completely national in scope. We are confident that the commissioners have the background, the experience, and the mandate to lead this inquiry properly.
After decades of loss, discrimination, and mistreatment, families of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls are speaking, and they feel they are being heard.
The minister was very pleased to see the positive feedback from the first sessions that were held in Whitehorse. An independent national inquiry operating free from direction or interference of the government, and I want to make that clear, we know was essential to keeping our commitment and a vital step toward reconciliation with indigenous people.
In the context of the member's question, I would remind the House that the national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls was established under part I of the Inquiries Act. It is independent from the federal government. This commission has the authority to determine how best to accomplish its mandate. The commissioners decide how, when, and where to hear from witnesses, including survivors, families, and loved ones.
The purpose of the pre-inquiry engagement, which included 17 face-to-face meetings with one or more federal ministers, was to hear primarily from families, loved ones, and survivors about the design of the inquiry. The pre-inquiry gathered recommendations and feedback on issues such as who would lead the inquiry, who would participate in the inquiry, and how it should be conducted to help inform the design of the commission. All of the 5,272 submissions received from academia, government groups, indigenous organizations, individuals, members of Parliament or legislatures, and organizations were all shared with the commission so it could read what families, loved ones, and survivors really wanted, and to be able to inform the inquiry and to accomplish the goals that it has been tasked with.
In sharing the information with the commission, we have been equally aware of the importance of respecting the wishes of the many individuals who participated in the pre-inquiry phase on the condition that their participation would remain anonymous. In these instances, no personal information was shared. During the pre-inquiry, the department also assisted in areas such as making travel arrangements and keeping registration lists.
I want to assure the member that progress is being made. We are committed to ensure that this is done, and it is done properly and in an independent way. I ask for her support in this ongoing inquiry.