The NWT government says it will change the way it is already working, rather than reinvent the wheel, to meet 231 calls for justice regarding missing and murdered women.
The territory is already working toward most of the calls published by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, a news release issued on Friday stated.
Caroline Cochrane, the minister responsible for the status of women, tabled an initial response on Thursday entitled Doing Our Part. Rather than responding to individual calls for justice, the report looks at 18 themes and what the government is doing within each.
The territory said some work already being done includes supporting women running for political office, revitalizing Indigenous languages, and providing core funding for family violence shelters. The NWT has also eliminated solely male-female gender options on drivers’ licences, healthcare cards, and statistical surveys.
When it comes to justice, education, and health and wellness, the report states more work needs to be done – including the development of policies.
The issue of extractive industries and their effect on violence against Indigenous women – and related calls for justice – will need more “review and analysis,” according to the report, before the government can respond.
The report states the NWT government faces challenges delivering services, especially to small and remote communities. The greatest challenge in responding to the calls for justice, the document suggests, will be how to find the “resources and capacity” to do so.
The initial response will be followed, Cochrane said, by a more “in-depth analysis” outlining steps the government can take.
That work will include what Cochrane called a “northern discussion on what a northern response will look like,” together with the Native Women’s Association of the NWT.
When the inquiry’s final report was released in June, the association’s response included calls for more person-centred approaches to service delivery and rebuilding trust in the relationships between NWT residents and their service providers and government.
Cochrane said the the NWT government supports the association’s findings and has also committed to discussing the development of a national action plan with the federal government. An action plan to address violence against women, girls, and members of the LGBTQ2S community forms the first call for justice.