Leaders tout creation of safety committee

Government leaders say a new committee will help coordinate a response to some of Yukon's thorny social issues.

Government leaders say a new committee will help coordinate a response to some of Yukon’s thorny social issues.

Under the Community Safety Committee, announced Friday, Yukon and First Nation governments, the RCMP and various community groups plan to sit down three times a year to share information and work on complicated issues around safety.

At-risk youth, the prevention of violence against women and girls, missing and murdered aboriginal women and strengthening police and community relationships were all mentioned at the announcement.

It’s building on the 2010 review of Yukon’s police force and Sharing Common Ground report, said Elaine Taylor, the minister responsible for the women’s directorate.

Ten groups are represented on the safety committee, including the Council for Yukon First Nations, Kwanlin Dun First Nation, the Association of Yukon Communities, Yukon Women’s Coalition, the RCMP, Yukon Department of Justice, Yukon’s women’s directorate, Yukon Health and Social Services and Emergency Medical Services.

It will be co-chaired by the Department of Justice’s public safety and investigations director, Jeff Ford, and a community representative that rotates every 18 months.

The first co-chair is the justice manager for CYFN.

No specific priorities have been set yet. The committee has met once already and plans to do it again in September.

Kwanlin Dun chief Doris Bill said she supports the establishment of the committee.

“We all know to improve community safety, many service providers must be involved and enhanced communication is essential.”

The Sharing Common Ground report came after the death of Raymond Silverfox in police custody and a review of Yukon’s police force. The report made 33 recommendations.

The structure of the new committee is similar to what was used for Sharing Common Ground, said Justice Minister Brad Cathers. That wrapped up last year and everyone involved thought it was important to create a way for the conversations to continue, he said.

Taylor pointed to many initiatives that came out of the report. That includes an agreement between the RCMP and the Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society and something similar for women’s groups in Whitehorse, and the creation of a sexualized assault response committee, a specialized response unit within the RCMP and the court watch program.

“Each one of these initiatives is helping to address critical gaps in services and is aiming to find ways of improving how we can positively respond to victims in such a way that honours their dignity, their resistance and their resilience.”

Brenda Jackson, justice manager for CYFN, read a statement from Ruth Massie.

“I believe this committee will be successful in the promotion, prevention, intervention and response to community safety once the committee establishes its action plan,” she said.

“A plan that is community-built and community-owned including full transparency, shared accountability, improved communications and information-sharing will go a long way in addressing the real needs of everyone in the community.”

Contact Ashley Joannou at

ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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