Monday, July 14, 2014
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Aboriginal women’s councils a reality

Ed Moore

Edson Leader

No one knows the problems of First Nations and Métis women better than the women themselves and that’s the view taken by the Alberta government when it established two women’s councils in early December.

The Alison Redford government appointed two Aboriginal women’s councils — one for First Nations and the other for Métis women. The councils have already met said former Aboriginal Relations and West Yellowhead MLA Robin Campbell.

The women’s councils have been dubbed economic security councils, so economics, education and job training will be issues on both councils. But the council won’t be limited to economic concerns.

“The councils will be able to identify the challenges Aboriginal women face in Alberta and will provide advice on how we can work with communities to overcome these barriers. They are a diverse group of women from across the province whose wide range of professional and traditional knowledge and abilities will make a significant contribution to the lives of Aboriginal people in Alberta,” said Campbell.

He added, as far as he knows the, having Aboriginal women’s councils is a first in Canada.

The Métis women’s council includes Hinton resident Lisa Higgerty. Campbell said he was pleased to learn of the inclusion of Higgerty.

“Lisa’s very well known and respected throughout the region. I’m looking forward to her participation greatly — actually.”

Higgerty runs Mamwichihtowin, a holistic treatment program that treats entire families under one roof.

The councils will meet separately throughout the year and will also meet jointly on occasion.

Both councils included women who have met and conquered challenges throughout their lifetimes. The councils contain a myriad of job and life experiences.

“We have elders, CEOs, educational [reps], doctors, lawyers — a whole range of backgrounds,” Campbell said.

A cross-ministry working group will support the councils. Each council will report directly to the Minister of Aboriginal Relations, and offer the working group, other government councils and interested stakeholders advice and recommendations on ways to improve economic outcomes for Aboriginal women.

There are 23 members in the First Nations group, while the Métis women’s group will have 13 representatives.

Premier Redford said all Aboriginal women will benefit from this initiative.

“We want Aboriginal women to achieve their goals and seize opportunities in Alberta’s growing economy. These councils will help improve Aboriginal women’s economic and social well-being by making their voices and unique perspectives better heard on matters that affect them and their communities.”

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