Alberta working group makes 113 recommendations to end violence against Indigenous women and girls

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Indigenous Relations Minister Rick Wilson released the report prepared by the Alberta Joint Working Group on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls on Friday.   (Hugo Levesque/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Indigenous Relations Minister Rick Wilson released the report prepared by the Alberta Joint Working Group on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls on Friday. (Hugo Levesque/Radio-Canada - image credit)

The Alberta government is setting up a new council to advise government on actions it can take to end violence against Indigenous women, LGBTQ, two-spirited and other gender diverse people.

The 12-member Premier's Council on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls will have a five-year mandate.

The action is one of 113 recommendations in a newly-released report from the Alberta Joint Working Group on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

The working group of Indigenous leaders and UCP MLAs was appointed by Indigenous Relations Minister Rick Wilson in March 2020 to make Alberta-specific recommendations on stopping the violence.

The group's report was submitted to the government in December 2021. It was released Friday at a news conference in Enoch Cree Nation west of Edmonton.

Rachelle Venne, co-chair of the joint working group, said she hoped the province takes the recommendations to heart.

"It is my hope that the work we did as the Alberta joint working group becomes part of the work moving forward," she said.

Wilson said the government intends to listen to the recommendations.

"We're going to keep moving forward," he said. "This is not something that's going to be shelved. "

Wilson was unable to provide a timeline or budget for implementation as the work will require an effort from many different ministries.

Critics doubt commitment

The province is currently seeking suitable candidates to sit on the 12-person council but Wilson could not say when it would start its work.

The report recommends the council would be made up of 75 per cent Indigenous women, girls, two-spirit, survivors, families and service providers. Executive leaders from provincial ministries would make up the remaining 25 per cent.

Wilson is already facing criticism that the province is doing too little. The Calgary-based Reconciliation Action Group released a statement Friday condemning the federal government for failing to act on the report from the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, released three years ago.

"While the province is set to release its action plan this Friday to mark the occasion, it is doubtful that it will contain meaningful, timely, and fully-funded actions," the group said in a written statement.

Richard Feehan, the NDP critic for Indigenous Relations, said he doubted the government would take action given that it took Wilson six months to release the working group's report to the public.

"The steps announced today are important but immediate and transparent action must be taken to implement these vital recommendations to advance the cause of reconciliation," he said in a news release.

The report grouped the 113 recommendations into categories like health, housing addictions and mental health treatment, the corrections system, child welfare and the educational system.

For example, the report calls on the province to develop correctional facilities for Indigenous women and two-spirit people, adding instruction on violence and human trafficking to the school curriculum and setting up an emergency women's shelter for Indigenous women in Edmonton.

Other recommendations include adding at least one Indigenous person to the fatality review board, establishing a secretariat with at least half Indigenous membership to track Alberta's efforts to fight human trafficking, and increasing income support so vulnerable Indigenous women and two-spirit people can receive a basic livable income.

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