Indigenous women's groups call on parties to commit to long-term funding
‘The Yukon government has to step up to the plate and put money where their mouth is’
The next government, regardless of political stripe, needs to dedicate long-term funding to support Indigenous women and girls in vulnerable situations, according to the heads of Indigenous women's groups.
"We're calling for the leaders to make this issue the highest of priorities," said Ann Maje Raider, the executive director of the Liard Aboriginal Women's Society.
"This violence against our Indigenous women and girls has to end."
Maje Raider said organizations like hers are too often chasing the next pot of money just to keep up with demand. This is hindering expansion plans, she added.
This chase has to end, and it starts and stops with the next party that manages to clinch victory on election night, Maje Raider said.
"The Yukon government has to step up to the plate and put money where their mouth is and provide meaningful resources to our women's organizations," she said.
"We need more support. These aren't victims — these are our family."
All parties promise funds
The Yukon Aboriginal Women's Council is also calling for sustained, long-term funding.
All parties have told CBC News they promise to earmark long-term funding for Indigenous women's organizations. They have also indicated — at various points through their campaign trails — they would implement Yukon's sing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two Spirit (MMIWG2S+) strategy, which was released in December.
An NDP spokesperson said in an email that, if elected, organizations will receive funding in three-year cycles. This would free-up more time to carry out programming they see fit, she added.
"We want to get that funding quickly and make sure that the organizations who know what communities need are involved every step of the way in planning how resources are allocated," Emily Della Mattia said.
A Yukon Party spokesperson said Indigenous women's groups will "receive proper and predictable long-term funding" if the party wins the election.
Liberal Leader Sandy Silver told CBC News $800,000 has been identified in the party's recently tabled budget for Indigenous women's groups.
"We agreed that a co-developed funding assessment plan would be the first step toward long-term funding for Indigenous women's organizations," he said.
'Problem is systemic'
Maje Raider said money set aside in the Liberals' budget "is not adequate for what we're looking for to address the issue."
The problem is systemic and, as a result, requires far more resources to address, she added.
"We need more support. These aren't victims, these are our family."
More funding could mean the creation of a centre for Indigenous women, bolstered support services and increased advocacy efforts, Maje Raider said.
"We're wanting to do the work," she said.