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This past year has been filled with challenges and uncertainty. We’ve had to rethink how we conduct our day-to-day lives in relation to our workplaces, our homes, our families, our friends, all to reduce the effects of the pandemic on our lives and livelihoods. It has been a hard and stressful struggle.
But amid the struggle, we have witnessed the best in people – a goodness that comes from the strength of community and caring.
I think what I will remember most about 2020 is inspiring actions that drew people together in the face of growing isolation. And I will remember how Indigenous Peoples in Alberta and my ministry were able to achieve good and meaningful work together during this trying time.
In less than a year, we were able to introduce and pass the first legislation Indigenous Relations has led in 30 years: the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation Act. This act established a new Crown corporation to backstop up to $1 billion of investment in major natural resource development projects.
We accepted applications to the Aboriginal Business Investment Fund 2020 with a lower funding cap per project, so more Indigenous community-owned businesses can benefit. By working with Indigenous Peoples to grow their employment and economy through different programs we truly have become partners in prosperity.
We are taking measures to ensure that communities are self-reliant and able to sustain themselves through challenging times that may be ahead.
We furthered our government-to-government relationship with First Nations by signing several protocol agreements. These protocol agreements give Alberta and First Nations a way to have meaningful discussions, share information and explore issues of mutual concern.
The safety and security of Indigenous women and girls was also a priority for my ministry in 2020. We set up the Alberta Joint Working Group on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and declared Sisters in Spirit Day in Alberta once again to raise awareness and to finds ways to make our province a safe and hopeful place where Indigenous women and girls thrive.
I am optimistic that 2021 will be a better year and I look forward to continuing to work with Indigenous leaders, people and communities in Alberta, as we move further along the path of reconciliation.
Happy New Year!