Alberta has established a team of four social workers to help families of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.
The three women and one man are to assist relatives in finding information about their loved ones from police, courts, the government and fatality inquiries.
Indigenous Relations Minister Richard Feehan says the team can also help connect families with elders and counsellors.
“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,” Feehan said. “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.”
Such units are funded by the federal government as part of the inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous womenthat is to begin in Yukon later this month.
The Alberta social workers are indigenous and their job will include travel throughout the province, including to remote communities.
“The ability to provide support, resources and advocacy for the families of murdered and missing indigenous women and girls is truly an honour,” said Janice Randhile, a family liaison for southern Alberta. “I am thankful for the opportunity to help and work with the families, stakeholders, law enforcement and victim service units across Alberta.”
Three members of the team are based in Edmonton, with a fourth in Grande Prairie.
A government website says there were 206 aboriginal women murdered in Alberta between 1980 and 2012 — about 28 per cent of all female homicides during that time.
—With files from The Canadian Press and Global News