Comments by RMWB Councillor Dogar


Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women (IAAW)
Comments by RMWB Councillor Dogar

February 4, 2022

EDMONTON –  IAAW makes the following statement on Fort McMurray City Councillor Dogar’s comments regarding Indigenous people.

February 3rd, 2022 we were publicly reminded of how myths and stereotypes about Indigenous people continue to undermine efforts to address the reality of missing and murdered Indigenous women.   

During a public budget meeting of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB), a motion was tabled by Councillor Kendrick Cardinal, requesting that the RMWB consider funding prevention initiatives for Murdered, Missing and Exploited Indigenous People.   IAAW commends Councillor Cardinal for tabling this motion before Council.

City Councillor Shafiq Dogar, Fort McMurray, Ward 1, is quoted as publicly stating in the Council’s debate that he did not support the motion because “Indigenous people in Wood Buffalo reside in the rural areas and only come to Fort McMurray to get drunk, or fight, or have other legal issues”. This statement is false, and suggests that rhetoric of this nature is acceptable. It is not acceptable.

Since 2004 it is believed that at least nine Indigenous women from the Wood Buffalo Region have been reported missing or murdered.  Only one week ago Ms. Sherri Flett was found murdered in a Fort McMurray home.  We extend our heartfelt condolences to Ms. Flett’s family as they continue to grieve the loss of their loved one.

In 2021 the Final Report of the National Inquiry on MMIWG concluded that  “An absolute paradigm shift is required to dismantle colonialism within Canadian society, and from all levels of government and public institutions. Ideologies and instruments of colonialism, racism, and misogyny, past and present, must be rejected.”  

Challenging positions that perpetuate myths and stereotypes is not only necessary to combat violence against Indigenous women; it is an essential legal obligation of all governments.   Municipal governments like the RMWB have an opportunity to implement change in such a way that impacts the everyday lives of community members, at multiple levels and across multiple sectors. 

A Councillor’s position of power and authority in that influential capacity ought to be exercised in a manner that is honourable, respectful, and considerate of the real-life issues facing all citizens.  Clearly, as demonstrated by Councillor Dogar’s response, intentional work needs to be done to address the reality of MMIWG in the RMWB.

Read an article by Fort McMurray Today news regarding the incident – click here.

Alberta Engagement on the National Action Plan on MMIWG

UPDATE: June 4, 2022

Alberta to establish council on missing Indigenous women and girls. Read the full article from the Edmonton Journal on Alberta “At A Crossroads’.

In March 2020, the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women secured funds from Indigenous Services Canada to engage with families on identifying priority actions for the National Action Plan. This is a summary of our engagement.

IAAW Engagement, National Action Plan, Key Findings and Recommendations, Alberta, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, MMIWG
IAAW Engagement, National Action Plan, Key Findings and Recommendations, Alberta, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, MMIWG

Preventing Violence Against Indigenous Women

Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women (IAAW) is pleased to present the
results of a community collaboration to create awareness on Violence against Aboriginal
Women. As violence comes in many forms, and affects families, communities, stakeholders and
governments, we have also included topics on men and those who identify as Two Spirited.

Community members, police and IAAW staff collaboratively developed the topics to inspire discussion that may not happen as much as it is needed. Funding gratefully provided from Government of Alberta.

There is a video that was produced using IAAW program participants and guests, including Anthony Johnson of Amazing Race Canada! The presentation that we deliver will include 8 short videos. Each about 1-2 mins long. A facilitator will play the video, showing the first
scenario. Then discussion happens and resources are provided. This is repeated with the remaining 7 scenarios. Our hope is that we can have many local agency representatives in attendance as possible to build the community response capabilities.

The 8 video topic’s are:
Public Safety for Indigenous Women (1)
It’s important to be aware of your surroundings and have a safety plan.
• What is a safety plan?
• Why would I need a safety plan?
• What should I teach my children about being safe?

Planning to Leave (2)
Your life is important. Be careful and leave when it’s safe.
• What should be planned out before you leave?
• What are the dangers of leaving?
• What else you need to think of before you leave?

Unmotivated Partner (3)
When your partner is taking advantage of you, it’s time for them to leave.
• Who gets to live in the shared residence?
• Is it safer just to leave?
• What are the impacts to your family or pets if you stay?

Circle of Supports (4)
Don’t be afraid to reach out for help; you’re not alone.
• How can communities support the men?
• How many people should be in your Circle of Support?
• What resources are in your community for people fleeing violence?

New Relationship Safety (5)
It’s important to remember to keep your personal information private.
• Would you let your new date know where you work or live?
• What are safety tips to have before connecting in person with a date?
• Are you aware of Red Flags?

Dealing with Family Drama (6)
Find the strength to not involve yourself with family drama.
• What is harassment?
• Can you unhook from social media?
• When to get police or a lawyer involved?

Family Supports (7)
It’s ok to lean on healthy relatives that can help you in the short term.
• How can you make sure you don’t overstay your welcome?
• What legal or other supports are available to assist in the short term?
• Where to get counselling for you and children?

Love yourself (8)
You loved yourself enough to leave, now love yourself even more and stay away.
• Where are wellness or self-care supports in your community?
• Who can you connect with for education on building healthy
• How time to give yourself to get healthy?

IAAW has also developed a brochure and stand-up table displays to assist in communicating the key messages to the larger audience. Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic we are delivering this workshop on-line through Zoom. Please connect with Bernadette Swanson, if you’d like to set up a zoom presentation.

Bernadette Swanson
Phone: 587-635-3051 | Free 1-877-471-2171 | Email

Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women
Address: 18104 – 102 Avenue Edmonton, AB T5S 1S7