Officials are seeking feedback on the GNWT’s draft action plan on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
A tour of discussions on how to Change the Relationship between the GNWT in how it addresses Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ (Two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual) has been travelling across the Beaufort Delta getting feedback on a 93-point draft action plan. The government open house, which includes a team of psychologists to assist people with traumatic memories as well as a presentation of how the government is approaching the issue, gets feedback from round-tables and conversations in an intentionally open and casual basis.
“This is just the beginning,” said Gender Equity Division director Elizabeth (Sabet) Biscaye. “It’s more than just putting programs in place — we’re trying to change people’s attitudes and behaviours.
“If we just introduce new programs but approach it with the same attitude and behaviours, things aren’t going to change.”
The tour started at Kitti Hall in Tuktoyaktuk on Aug. 12, then presented in Aklavik Hamlet Council chambers Aug. 15. An Inuvik open house was initially planned for 1 p.m. Aug. 16 but had to be postponed to 7 p.m. because an intense fog prevented air travel out of Aklavik that morning. The tour continued to Fort McPherson on Aug. 17 to present at the Gwich’in Tribal Council annual general assembly, who invited the GNWT to speak. A second meeting in Tuktoyaktuk from 1 to 4 p.m. at Kitti Hall on Aug. 18 has been scheduled and a second one in Inuvik on Aug. 19 is also being considered if interest is keen. Sessions were previously held in Yellowknife on Aug. 4, Hay River on July 6, Kátł’odeeche First Nation Reserve on July 5 and Fort Resolution on July 4.
Getting to this tour has been two years of work in the making. Biscaye said the GNWT first took the 1600-page final report and began narrowing it down to a northern focus.
“We looked at every call for justice and looked at every item, and asked ‘Does this apply to the North?’”
Once the team had narrowed the 231 calls down to 93 that were relevant to the north, they then produced a summary of currently existing programs that match up with the calls for justice.
That summary was then presented at preliminary meetings with select women’s groups to ensure it was meeting the important points. Finally, the draft form was released for public feedback, based on the four objectives listed by the Native Women’s Association.
Next, the plan is to compile the feedback and prepare a report back to the GNWT, which will be shared with all departments. The plan will then be finalized an implemented.
Biscaye said there’s already been good ideas to come out of the tour. One idea she was fond of was to put together a directory of available funding programs for support services, as well as simplifying the funding process to make it more accessible. She added she was encouraged to see many of the presented calls to action matching up with announcements for housing, rehabilitation and other social projects from both the federal and territorial government, citing recent funding announcements for ‘On the Land’ initiatives as one example.
If you missed the open house and would like to provide feedback on the action plan, written submissions can be sent to email@example.com until Sept. 16. A summary of the action plan can be read here and the plan in its entirety can be read here.