November 21, 2022 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

Students in Human Rights Studies 2900 had the unique opportunity to learn from Dr. Karine Duhamel about the gendered dimensions of colonization and about the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), and the challenges of “reconciliation.”

Dr. Duhamel is a historian with a broad range of experience in Indigenous issues. As Director of Research for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), she drafted the Final Report, managed the Forensic Document Review Project and the Legacy Archive. She has worked for the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, for Indigenous law firms, and in the context of public education. Deeply grounded in Indigenous research, she is a tireless advocate for Indigenous and other human rights and the responsibilities and relationships that they require.

Human Rights Studies student Nadin St. Lewis summarizes the event:
During her presentation, Dr. Karine Duhamel talked about colonization and findings told from stories of survivors, and how colonization has affected women and girls. She spoke of violent acts that took the lives of the families’ loved ones, about women who witnessed the assaults of their mothers, and those who experienced assaults themselves, sometimes in their foster homes.

Dr. Duhamel spoke briefly of the history of the inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls, for those who were not familiar with the important inquiry, which began in 2016. She said that the inquiry involved a lot of work from families and survivors, who had been advocating for months, years or decades. In relation to the truth-gathering process, the inquiry’s commissioners decided to broaden the mandate in two important ways: to include “families of the heart” and also include the perspectives of two-spirited and transgender people and more broadly 2SLGBTQ+ people in the final report.

She told the class that the testimonies revealed root causes that were constant, for example, economic and social marginalization. Two-spirited people were demonized during the history of violence. Dr. Duhamel also talked about the Indian Act and how it restricted the rights of Indigenous peoples.

She went on to discuss rights and responsibilities such as building accountability and a strengths-based approach, emphasizing the commitment that is needed as we move forward with reconciliation.

Dr. Duhamel left the class with a final question: “I’m a change maker – are you?”