Response plan for missing Indigenous women and girls being developed in Fort St. John, B.C.
Plan comes after to Amnesty International report documenting problems in northeast B.C.
The Fort St. John Women's Resource Society is developing a plan aimed at improving community response when Indigenous women and girls go missing in northeast B.C.
The plan is a direct response to a 2016 Amnesty International report documenting the risks Indigenous women and girls face in northeast B.C., and Fort St. John in particular.
Sylvia Lane, the Resource Society's poverty law advocate, said the vision is to develop a "comprehensive safety community plan" led by Indigenous community members.
The plan will bring in several organizations when an Indigenous woman or girl goes missing.
"The RCMP, the search and rescue, the fire, the Aboriginal [groups] — they're all on the safety team," Lane said.
"So when an Aboriginal woman or girl is identified to the team as being missing, that's a notification to all team members."
After a report comes in to the comprehensive safety team, Lane explained, a file would be generated.
Lane said the idea came directly from an Indigenous leader who spoke at a forum about the Amnesty report in Fort St. John in November 2016.
"They said, 'We have a plan for water, we have a plan for sewer, we have a long-term plan for parks. Where's the long-term plan to keep the Indigenous members of our community safe?'" Lane said.
The organization has received three years of funding from the B.C. Law Society to develop the response system.
Lane said the key aspect of the final product will be that Indigenous community members will be guiding it every step of the way.
"The governing body will be put together this year," she said.
"[They] will be elders or positions of trust that the Aboriginal communities will select to be core members."
Lane said the group will develop the policy, the procedures and the responses and then roll the plan out into the community.