One of four social workers appointed to help the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women across Alberta will be based out of Grande Prairie. The provincial government has created a Family Information Liaison Unit using roughly $1.5 million dollars in federal funding.
The three women and one man will be able to give families information about the justice system, and updates on their loved ones cases. Minister of Indigenous Relations Richard Feehan says they recognize it can be hard to find information on investigations.
“These facts are often spread out among multiple institutions and departments, making even a simple request for information a frustrating or even alienating experience. By contrast, this unit will work as a single point of contact for victims’ families.”
The liaisons will travel throughout the province to meet with families face-to-face. The rep for southern Alberta Janice Randhile says her eyes were opened to the problem when she heard the story of a missing woman who wasn’t considered a high risk.
“She was out celebrating with her friends and never went home. This was a scary moment for me as I realized that all Indigenous women were targets to go missing or murdered, no matter where you came from, lifestyle, age or nation.”
The unit can also link families with elders, spiritual support and counselling, and has enough money to function for three years. Executive director of the Metis Child and Family Services Society Don Langford says there’s a great need for someone to listen and understand the frustrations of Indigenous people.
“You can’t go day after day after day and ask question after question without getting some sort of logical response from somebody, and at times our people feel nobody just gives a damn.”
He adds he has felt more support from the ministry over the past two years, and this move makes him more optimistic.