Members of Yukon's LGBTQ2S+ community often struggle to find appropriate healthcare, experience bullying at school, or come up against discrimination at work, says Joe Wickenhauser, executive director of Queer Yukon Society.
A new five-year action plan released by the Government of Yukon on Thursday aims to address these problems and make the territory more inclusive.
"We recognize that LGBTQ2S+ Yukoners have faced discrimination for far too long and their rights are human rights," said Jeanie McLean, minister responsible for the Women's Directorate, at a press conference.
The plan includes more than 100 hundred actions and comes after three years of consultation with Yukon's non-binary and queer community. McLean said the government did not rush the process to make sure all voices were heard.
Many of the actions aim to improve access to government services and programs in sectors like healthcare and education. For example, the government has committed to providing training for healthcare practitioners serving Two-spirit, trans and non-binary Yukoners, and encouraging schools to support gender and sexuality alliance.
Other actions pertain to the cultural activities, public facilities, data collection, tourism and the Yukon government's workplace culture. That includes building gender neutral bathrooms in new government buildings and providing non-binary gender options for IDs within the next five years.
Wickenhauser said this is a 'historic moment', noting that Quebec is the only other province or territory with a similar action plan.
But he cautions this is only the beginning.
"Although a great deal of work has gone into making this inclusion roadmap, we should not confuse the map with the destination," said Wickenhauser.
"There is still much to learn from community members who are still finding their voices or whose voices haven't yet been heard."
Wickenhauser is encouraging LGBTQ2S+ Yukoners to tell the government what they think about the action plan.
It is slated to be reviewed by community members every two years.
There is no official budget associated with the plan. McLean said many calls to action consist of small administrative orders that will take time but won't necessarily incur additional costs.
The plan will begin being implemented immediately.
Wickenhauser said it's a welcome step toward creating an inclusive society.
"There was a popular saying back in the 90s from a pride parade celebration in New York…they said, 'we are everywhere, we want everything,'" said Wickenhauser.
"And I think that's the same feeling that we have from our community here today, is that LGBTQ2S+ Yukoners want to be safe and respected and included."