Yukon Premier Sandy Silver is flanked by Nuvavut Premier Joe Savikataaq, left, and Northwest Territories Premier Bob McLeod during a northern premiers conference in Dawson City over the June 13 and 14 weekend. Handout/YG

Northern premiers say they’re working to respond to MMIWG report

‘We’re trying to find a united pathway forward’

Two of three Northern premiers said action plans will be created in response to the final report that delves into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

The Yukon government is one of those jurisdictions, according to Premier Sandy Silver.

“We’re looking forward to addressing actions of the root causes of this crisis and we’re going to do that with our partners, with the Yukon Advisory Committee,” he said on June 14 after a territorial premiers’ forum hosted in Dawson City.

“We, as Canadians, we’re all affected by these tragic events that have been documented through this inquiry and we have stake in not only ending violence against Indigenous women and girls but also LGBTQ2S+ individuals and that’s the good work we’re going to endeavour moving forward.”

The inquiry’s final report was released at a closing ceremony on June 3. It concludes that systemic violence faced by Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA (two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual) people in Canada amounts to genocide.

There are 231 “calls for justice,” a national action plan being one of them.

It’s unclear when the Yukon government will put such a plan together. A spokesperson with cabinet communications said that no timeline has been set.

“As more information about the action plan becomes available, we will share it with local media,” said Matthew Cameron in a written statement.

Nuvavut’s Premier, Joe Savikataaq, said officials are going over the report now, adding that there are 42 Inuit-specific recommendations included in it.

“We’ll be looking into them and coming up with an action plan on that,” he said.

Bob McLeod, premier of the Northwest Territories, didn’t explicitly state that an action plan will be created, but said his government will respond to the report in a “timely basis.”

“We’re hoping to be able to respond at our next session, which is the last two weeks of August, 2019,” he said.

Other topics were raised at the forum, which occurred on both June 13 and 14.

Climate change, being one, but also issues like disaster mitigation and energy issues.

More work needs to be done in order to build up the Arctic and respond to its distinct needs, a point held by each premier.

“Ottawa needs to have a lot more nation building when it comes to dealing with the Arctic,” Silver said. “We keep on having to describe the unique circumstances of the North. It doesn’t matter what the topic is with funding.”

Savikataaq, McLeod and Silver said more funds from federal coffers are urgently needed to bolster Northern infrastructure.

“We are so far behind on our infrastructure needs,” Savikataaq said. “We want to get to where the rest of Canada is, that southern Canadians take for granted that we don’t have up here.”

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

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