Richard Feehan, Minister of Indigenous Relations has said “Losing a loved one, in any way, is an incredibly difficult experience for families – particularly if they don’t know where to turn for help or information. Having someone who will get answers to their questions and find them help can ease the heavy burden being carried by the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.”
As part of its commitment to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, the Government of Alberta has established a Family Information Liaison Unit with approximately $1.5 million in funding from the federal government.
The unit is intended to be a single point of contact where experienced front-line staff can provide families with information about the justice system and legal processes, as well as specific updates about criminal investigations, court proceedings or fatality inquiries involving their loved ones. The team can also link families with Elders, spiritual support and counselling.
A group of Elder advisers will also be available to assist staff and help ensure families are treated in a way that recognizes and honours their Indigenous traditions and beliefs.
Three members of the team are based in Edmonton, with a fourth in Grande Prairie. Face-to-face meetings are important to many families and the liaisons will travel throughout Alberta to see people in their home communities.
Funding for Alberta’s Family Information Liaison Unit is for three years, running concurrently with the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls until March 31, 2019.