Yukon has released the first comprehensive response to the national inquiry’s report into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada.
The report contained 231 calls to justice when it was released in June 2019 after more than two years of hearings that started in the territory.
The national report requires every province and territory to respond to its findings.
Yukon’s strategy was released Thursday morning during a news conference in Whitehorse attended in-person or virtually.
It began with the flames of a sacred fire ceremony glowing in the pre-dawn northern darkness.
The territory wide approach aims to address violence against Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people over the next 10 to 15 years.
It outlines four main goals that echo four pillars highlighted in the report: strengthening connections and support, community safety and justice, economic independence and education, and community action and accountability. Some 31 actions are give priority.
Territorial and national leaders one by one read a declaration of their commitment out loud before signing their names.
An advisory committee struck in 2015 worked on the response, which is intended to be “a living document that will grow and change … over time in response to evolving community needs.”
“We will work together to create a better Yukon, where Indigenous women are safe and respected, where their dignity is upheld, where they receive justice,” said committee co-chair Jeanie McLean, minister responsible for the territory’s Women’s Directorate.
McLean suggested a national action plan on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls “no doubt will be informed by our approach in Yukon.”
Another co-chair, Ann Maje Raider of the Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society, said all of Canada needs to stand together to address violence against Indigenous women and girls.
“We need justice. We need truth and we need reparation. Those are the three things that we need in our country if we, as Indigenous women, are going to restore our dignity,” Raider said.
Carolyn Bennett, federal minister for Indigenous-Crown relations, agreed Yukon’s approach sets an example for the rest of Canada.
“Your hard work now becomes the first chapter of what will become a truly national response to the final report of the national inquiry,” Bennett said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised that a national plan in response to the inquiry’s report would be released in June 2020, but so far nothing has been released.