Changing the Relationship

The GNWT's draft plan to reduce violence against women

This Thursday, the GNWT released its draft Strategy named ‘Changing the Relationship’ a 3-year action plan aimed at reducing violence against women and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people. The draft Strategy is built on the recommendations put forth by the NWT Native Women’s Association to the National Inquiry in December of 2018.

The Minister Responsible for the Status of Women, Caroline Wawzonek introduced the Strategy and opened with strong words about the importance of the NWT moving the recommendations forward for the future of the territory.

“Change of course, must happen if we are to end violence directed at Indigenous women and girls and gender diverse people. “

“This draft action plan is a step towards that change and the 95 actions that outline how the GNWT will work to address the calls for justice and address systemic causes of violence, inequality and racism,” said the Minister.

Wawzonek also spoke to the importance of community involvement in this Strategy and explained that it will be presented to communities for their input. The real surprise though was her comment about the GNWT public servants, some who she said are the change leaders who hold the power to make changes.

“I suppose if I were to say what needs to change first is for particularly that group of public servants who are marked as the change leaders across all departments, that they internalize that, that they internalize that they hold this power, to change the way that they deal with each other, and to change the way that they deal with those that we serve as public servants.”

The minister did not leave out the frontline workers who she said would have input into the final plan. “So, I would say the first thing is actually for the people at those frontlines, the service providers, the folks that are answering the questions, the people that are the resource person in the community, GSO office, for example. I want them to know that they are having a hand in the final plan”

When asked if this Strategy applies to resource industries like mining and oil and gas companies, the Minister answered that the lens used to apply the Strategy is a tool would also apply to industry and its workers in the NWT. “Where I think this this action plan becomes so powerful is that it’s a powerful call to all departments and a tool for all ministers to turn around and say, we don’t just regulate an industry or engage with an industry or support an industry in whatever fashion without ensuring that we’re continuing to apply this lens.

What makes this Strategy unique and different from all others is the strong commitment from all of the departments in the GNWT.

“There was a real buy in on wanting to demonstrate that this is done by all departments, represented by their ministers, this is a whole of government strategy that everyone’s committed to”

“Because once you make that sort of a formal and public statement of commitment, we can be held to account in by everyone and anyone, you know, questions in the house from any MLA founded on this action plan can be directed to any minister into their department.”

The Changing the Relationship strategy is scheduled to be finalized by June 2022. While that date seems like it’s quite far away from now, the plan is to consult  the communities first which of course takes time in the NWT.