This article originally appeared in The Lawyer's Daily.
The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit+ people launched in 2016 with its final report coming out in 2019. I remember that day clearly.
The report had been leaked to the media. The media called me a few days before my last day at work in-house as legal counsel at Hydro One. It was about 4 p.m. The phone call said it was CBC and they had an exclusive in which they wanted me present later that evening. I left work at the time I normally left work.
Only a few people knew until my face was splashed across CBC Power & Politics. I largely spent my time critiquing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for his treatment of women in his caucus: if this is how he treated high ranking officials, how do you think he treats women on the ground doing the hard work?
Funnily enough, the women out there doing the work don’t focus too much who is doing what. They get the work done and they do what needs to be done. But, they do care about working in collaborative ways on important issues.
This is the spirit and intent that appears upon first read from Yukon’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit+ People Strategy. Their strategy, as result of a year-long consultation, adopted a whole-of-Yukon approach to include all governments, partners and other stakeholders. The inspiring part about this strategic plan is that it offers a pathway forward for other regional governments, whether Indigenous or non-Indigenous regional governments.
Part of the concerns I have as a lawyer is that there is lacking insight as to how the plan will address those involved in the sex trade in our communities. We cannot ignore this reality but often this plan only assumes that those in the sex trade are human trafficked or human trafficking victims/survivors.
Another promising part is the trust fund to prioritize families’ needs. However, in that same breath, I wonder whose experiences may be lost or remain unacknowledged if they do not meet certain requirements set up by that trust.
Governments can look to this as a source of inspiration for their own strategies but they must be cautious in adopting an approach that may silence certain voices or experiences, like those in the sex trade.
In the end, I am also concerned about the federal government’s lack of response to fulfil the national inquiry’s calls to justice. Prime Minister Trudeau claims the national inquiry has shown him a way forward. Yet, he has done little since then. If the way forward means doing nothing, he didn’t need the national inquiry to continue.