Native women’s councils

Unique approach aims to improve conditions for First Nations and Métis

Two new provincially appointed councils will work to bring a unique perspective to the aid of aboriginal women. In early 2014 the First Nations Women’s Economic Security Council and the Métis Women’s Economic Security Council will begin outlining some of the primary reasons these social groups face disproportionate hardships and make proposals on how the government can help.

Each council is composed of Métis and aboriginal businesswomen health professionals tribal administrators social workers educators media producers outdoor guides and lawyers from across Alberta.

“In our preliminary discussions we’ve talked about everything from children in care to job opportunities to training on the job to adequate housing to murdered and missing women to poverty to racism to discrimination to access to justice” council co-chair Koren Lightning-Earle said during a December 9 press conference.

“This isn’t a government program where we’re saying to aboriginal women buy into this. What we’re asking is for the women on council to set the priorities for government” added Aboriginal Relations Minister Robin Campbell.

“The sooner we can get the priorities established — the sooner that we can get the training and tools on the ground moving forward — the sooner we can provide safe and sustainable communities for aboriginal women living in this province…. If we don’t move quickly we’re about to lose another generation of children in this province” said Campbell.

According to the Alberta government the province’s 63000 aboriginal women and 50000 Métis women suffer an unemployment rate twice as high as other Albertans and a spousal homicide rate eight times higher than that of non-natives. Premier Alison Redford has made improving the status of aboriginal women in Alberta a top priority.