Yukon government, First Nations to hold MMIW roundtable

The Yukon government and First Nations representatives will hold a family gathering for relatives of missing and murdered indigenous women, in December. It will be followed in February by a regional roundtable on the issue.

'We are working together for a cause that should never have happened.'

'The families deserve answers,' said Kwanlin Dün chief Doris Bill at Wednesday's announcement. (CBC)

The Yukon government, First Nations and other community groups are planning a couple of events this winter, to ensure missing and murdered indigenous women are not forgotten, and to search for solutions.

Government and First Nations representatives announced Wednesday they'll host a family gathering in December, for relatives of the missing to come together, share stories, and talk about what help they would have liked when their loved ones went missing or were murdered. Then, in February, a regional roundtable will look for new ways to address the issue.

"We are working together for a cause that should never have happened," said Doris Anderson, president of the Yukon Aboriginal Women's Council.

"We are at a place in time that we can show our future generations that, as leaders, we stood together, worked together to find justice."

Elaine Taylor, Yukon's minister responsible for the Women's Directorate, said in a statement that "the statistics are shocking." She said in Yukon alone, there are 39 missing or murdered indigenous women and girls.

Wednesday's announcement stems from a similar national roundtable held earlier this year in Ottawa. A Yukon delegation, led by Premier Darrell Pasloski, attended and afterwards recommended a similar event in Yukon.

"The families deserve answers, they deserve concrete solutions and preventable measures, so we are all able to make a difference in the future," Kwanlin Dün chief Doris Bill said Wednesday.

"Family members need to know that we care, that somebody is listening," Bill said. 

The roundtable is being billed as an opportunity for government and other Yukon organizations to talk about and collaborate on different initiatives addressing safety for indigenous women, and support for victims' families.

Bill said it's a good step, but provinces, territories and communities can only do so much on their own. She says the federal government must also be involved.

"I am encouraged by what I'm hearing from our Prime minister-designate," Bill said. "One can only be optimistic that some answers and solutions may now be forthcoming." 

Justin Trudeau has said his government will get moving on a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women "very quickly."

"I believe there is a need for a national public inquiry to bring justice for the victims, healing for the families and to put an end to this tragedy," Trudeau said Tuesday afternoon.