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

2nd Anniversary of the Final Report of the National Inquiry on MMIWG


President of Institute for the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women (IAAW) Comments on the 2nd Anniversary of the Final Report of the National Inquiry on MMIWG

EDMONTON –  IAAW representatives were present in Gatineau, Quebec when the Final Report of the National Inquiry on MMIWG was presented to the public on June 3, 2019.  It was a moving event with many tears shed for the families that shared their stories as part of the Inquiry’s work. 

While many of the 231 recommendations in the Final Report place primary responsibility on government to implement a plan to address the national tragedy of MMIWG, IAAW has continued in its everyday work to engage with families and build recommendations that are Alberta-specific.

Despite the impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on our ability to deliver in-person supports, IAAW continues to support Indigenous women and families through on-line sessions with topics on wellness, violence prevention, healthy relationships, financial literacy, employment and training, youth safety and leadership, transitions from federal correctional facilities, advocacy and housing supports, all which are culturally-informed and infused with Elder guidance.  

Building off our successful Indigenous Women’s Justice Forums in 2017 and 2018, we continue to strategize, participate in, and implement justice initiatives that focus on improving the court system, and provide education and access to justice for Indigenous women and families.

What was started in 1995 in the basement of the Canadian Native Friendship Centre with no funding, has grown to be a recognized and accomplished organization serving Indigenous women throughout Alberta.

We continue to build allies with stakeholders and we have been surprised and grateful for the outpouring of support for our organization.  IAAW has established formal alliances and partnerships with agencies, such as the Awo Taan Healing Lodge Society (Calgary) to build a path forward, one that is family-first and trauma-informed.  We have also joined forces with the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) as the official Provincial-Territorial Member Association representing Alberta Indigenous women.

IAAW’s 25th Annual Esquao Awards to recognize the ‘Angels Among us’ was postponed due to COVID-19 but our collective efforts to recognize Indigenous women, and to encourage them to not give up, will resume in-person in May 2022. 

In the meantime IAAW will continue its work to obtain justice, address barriers, and assist Indigenous women.  This commitment is owed to the women of all ages who have shared their stories with us, and the matriarchs who guide us in our work.   

Lisa D. Weber, President