Wednesday’s Throne Speech took direct aim at Canada’s national epidemic of missing and murdered aboriginal women, saying the government will address the “disturbing number of unsolved cases” in a “pressing criminal justice priority.”

It’s a huge step forward, said Assembly of First Nations Chief Shawn Atleo, and it comes on the heels of two decades of advocacy and numerous calls to action.

“If the government is starting to take that crisis seriously”, said Angela Marie MacDougall, executive director of Vancouver-based Battered Women’s Support Services, “it’s been a long time coming.”

“On the ground, we’ll need to see those words in action,” she said — “to prevent Aboriginal women from going missing in the first place, as well as putting greater resources towards finding the ones who have disappeared.”