Aboriginal women’s summit returns

Aboriginal women from across the territory will be meeting in Whitehorse this weekend. This is the second Yukon Aboriginal Women's Summit ever held.

Aboriginal women from across the territory will be meeting in Whitehorse this weekend.

This is the second Yukon Aboriginal Women’s Summit ever held. The first was in November 2007 and took place in both Whitehorse and Watson Lake.

This year, organizer Amanda Mudry felt it was “really important to have everyone in the same room at the same time talking about the same things,” she said.

The discussions will largely focus on measuring how far they’ve come since meeting in 2007. At those gatherings, recommendations about improving aboriginal women’s education, leadership and wellness were established, said Mudry.

As well, in 2009, six programs were developed. Those will be discussed this weekend as well, she said.

The projects include the Yukon’s Sisters in Spirit, which is the territory’s continuation of what was once a federal program that helps gather information and spread awareness and advocacy for missing and murdered aboriginal women. The territory’s database lists 29 cases of missing or murdered aboriginal women from the Yukon.

Other projects developed in 2009 include a role model and mentorship program, a youth-violence prevention project and a camp that brings together elders and youth.

There’s also a project that works with policy-makers to help them become aware of how their decisions impact aboriginal women in First Nation communities in the territory, and a project to help women develop their own grassroots organizations.

It’s like a manual for women who are looking to grow support for a local cause or group, said Mudry.

While the gathering is specifically for the territory’s aboriginal women, non-aboriginal women and men are welcome to attend as observers. Multiple representatives for many different women’s organizations, the RCMP, government and other local groups are invited, said Mudry.

Michele Audette, an Innu activist and president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, will be the weekend’s keynote speaker.

The summit is being held at the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre on Saturday and Sunday, starting at 9 a.m.