Former justice minister leads aboriginal women’s group

Marian Horne comes back to the limelight, this time not as a politician but the president of a non-profit aboriginal women’s group.

Marian Horne comes back to the limelight, this time not as a politician but the president of a non-profit aboriginal women’s group.

A majority of around 23 members elected the former justice minister as the president of Yukon Aboriginal Women’s Council on June 25.

Horne served as MLA for Pelly-Nisutlin from 2006 to 2011. Now retired, Horne also ran for MLA for the Whitehorse Centre riding in 2011 but lost to NDP Leader Liz Hanson.

“I never really stopped,” Horne said of her political work. She’s been part of women’s advocacy groups since her twenties, as violence against women strikes a personal chord with her.

“I had issues that happened to me that didn’t happen to other people,” she said.

She’s adamant that violence against First Nations women causes ripple effects. “Our children are raised witnessing violence at home. And the circle of violence keeps perpetuating itself,” she said.

As president, she plans on reaching out to small-town Yukon communities and training aboriginal women to set up their own non-profits. Once women’s groups exist in the communities, she said she would like to write grant proposals with them to start working on new projects.

Horned criticized the government for not providing enough money to aboriginal women’s groups. “It’s so strange that women’s issues are not important to the government,” she said, adding that the aboriginal women’s groups have historically received “very little funding.”

Currently, the Yukon Aboriginal Women’s Council shares a tiny office space with the Whitehorse Aboriginal Women’s Circle. “All we can afford right now is a part-time office manager,” Horne said.

She would like to spend more time in the office, but said the trip from her home in Teslin to Whitehorse is difficult without sufficient funding. “I don’t get travel expenses or accommodations while I’m there (in Whitehorse),” she said.

There’s “very little” she’d like to change with the group’s programs, as the members have done “incredible” work as volunteers, she said.

Horne pointed to two major projects that occurred while she was justice minister that she says changed the way the territory deals with First Nations women.

In 2010, the Justice Department, RCMP and the Council of Yukon First Nations produced a report called “Sharing Common Ground: Review of Yukon’s Police Force.” Since then, the relationships with First Nations and the police have improved, Horne said.

She’s especially proud of the how the police now handle cases of domestic violence. “They used to charge both. The victim was victimized twice,” she said.

During her term in the Justice Department, Horne also said she worked with the Yukon College to launch a training program for teachers, service providers, social workers, investigators and law enforcement officers to foster empathetic approaches of handling people living with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

Horne is also an active member of the Teslin Tlinglit Council. On Thursday, she helped cook for a fundraising dinner for a fellow Tlinglit woman whose home burnt down in late June. 

She credits the Yukon “community spirit” for such efforts. “We do care for each other,” she said.

Horne will be serving one year as president of the Yukon aboriginal Women’s Council.

“The louder we (aboriginal women) speak, the more we’ll be heard.”

Contact Krystle Alarcon at krystlea@yukon-news.com

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