The NWT government has released a draft of its long-awaited plan to address the calls for justice issued by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
The territory’s 150-page plan, titled Changing the Relationship, details 93 actions the territorial government plans to take to address colonialism and racial and gendered discrimination in its departments, agencies, and policies.
Outcomes listed in the plan include improving the territory’s relationship with Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people by establishing trust and accountability and focusing on person-centred services.
“As a government we are looking for ways to heal and reconcile a historical relationship,” the plan states. “As a relatively small government serving a territory with a majority Indigenous population, we have an opportunity to be representative and inclusive, and a leader in developing programs and services that are responsive, accessible, and culturally relevant.”
Actions in the plan address calls for justice focused on culture and language, health and wellness, human security, and the justice system. Some of the work is already under way, like plans to develop a managed alcohol program, build a permanent wellness and recovery centre, provide cultural awareness and sensitivity training, and support land-based activities such as the take-a-kid-trapping program.
Other actions in the report include promoting Indigenous worldviews, cultures, and languages in schools; Indigenous recruitment and retention; establishing patient advocates in Inuvik, Hay River, Fort Smith, and Yellowknife; a suicide prevention and crisis response network; a medical detox program; and missing persons legislation.
“The GNWT is committed to working with all northerners and with partners across Canada to address systemic causes of violence, inequality, and racism so that Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people can feel safe and empowered in our territory and in our country,” Caroline Wawzonek, the minister responsible for the status of women, said in a statement.
The national inquiry released its final report in June 2018, including 231 calls for justice directed at all levels of government, various industries, and all Canadians.
While the NWT government initially stated it planned to rely on the federal government’s action plan, the territory announced in July 2020 it would develop an NWT-specific plan in response to the calls for justice.
The territory said it plans to engage people with lived experience between December 2021 and March 2022 and is committed to completing a final action plan by June 2022.