Alberta is taking meaningful steps toward stronger relationships with Indigenous Peoples.
Reconciliation is a journey of education and action to improve relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. It is ongoing and active, and it starts with acknowledging the truth about Canada’s residential school system and colonial origins.
Alberta’s government is committed to collaborating with Indigenous communities and walking the path toward reconciliation together. This work has already begun, and it will continue to be a priority for our province.
These are some of the most recent actions we have taken on the evolving journey toward reconciliation.
Premier’s Council on MMIWG
We created a Premier’s Council on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) to recommend actions to help eliminate gender-based violence against Indigenous people in Alberta.
Residential school monument
We worked with Indigenous people to develop a residential school monument and reconciliation garden on the Alberta Legislature grounds for the victims and survivors of Canada’s residential school system.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) Calls to Action set out a path toward reconciliation by providing achievable and meaningful targets for governments, organizations and people to work towards everyday.
We have made progress on more than 20 of the calls to action that relate to the province. This includes some of the initiatives listed below in the areas of education, justice, child welfare, mental health and addictions, consultation, infrastructure and more.
While the calls to action provide an important roadmap, there are many other ways to pursue reconciliation. We must listen to the concerns of Indigenous Peoples to find meaningful ways to support healing and growth. Indigenous-led solutions that affect meaningful change will lead to a better future for all. The path toward reconciliation can only be followed through partnership and collaboration.
We acknowledge the harmful effect of residential schools on generations of Indigenous people and are working together to address and commemorate it to get to a place of healing.
Supporting community research into residential schools
Alberta's government provided $8 million to 43 Indigenous communities and organizations through the Residential Schools Community Research Grant. This funding supported Indigenous-led engagement and research into the documented and undocumented deaths and burials of Indigenous children at residential school sites across Alberta.
Alberta's government also acquired a property containing a cemetery associated with the Red Deer Industrial School. Heritage staff are engaging with 8 First Nations and the Métis Nation of Alberta to support ground penetrating radar work at the cemetery location and future commemorative activities.
Supporting the mental well-being of those affected by residential schools
Since 2021, the Alberta government has pledged $8.5 million for mental health supports for Indigenous people. The Residential School Mental Health Support Grant Program provided about $1.8 million to 36 First Nations, Metis Settlements and the Métis Nation of Alberta to support a variety of services, including counselling and traditional healing practices for individuals, families and communities affected by Canada’s residential schools and the reclamation of children’s remains.
Creating a residential school monument
Alberta's government, working with an Indigenous panel, commissioned Saddle Lake Cree Nation sculptor, Stewart Steinhauer, to design a monument honouring residential school survivors and the children who never made it home.
This monument will be incorporated into an Indigenous reconciliation garden on the Alberta Legislature grounds. It will be a place people can visit to learn, reflect and heal. It is expected to be complete in the summer of 2023.
The monument responds directly to the TRC’s 82nd call to action, which urges provincial governments to collaborate with Indigenous Peoples on installing a public residential school monument.
Supporting the Papal visit to Alberta
The Government of Alberta provided support for Pope Francis’ visit to Alberta for an historic apology to residential school survivors and families.
- Read the apology (available in multiple languages)
- Read the Premier of Alberta's statement
Waiving fees for Indigenous name changes
The Alberta government permanently waived fees for legal name changes of Indigenous people who lost their names through residential school experiences and the Sixties Scoop. Access to vital records has also been expanded, especially as it relates to eligibility for First Nation and Métis membership rights and applications for other programs and services.
Supporting Indigenous research efforts and access to records
Research and location information about residential schools across Alberta has been compiled and incorporated into the Listing of Historic Resources. Government uses this database to prevent development activities from adversely affecting residential school sites.
The Provincial Archives of Alberta supports research efforts and reaches out regularly to Indigenous researchers and organizations to build relationships and provide access to records.
Alberta government archivists also helped develop A Reconciliation Framework for Canadian Archives as part of a national taskforce. This process has removed barriers between Indigenous record keepers and Canadian archives.
More information is available in the Resource Guide for Researching and Recognizing Residential School Sites. This guide offers an overview of government programs and services available to help interested researchers, former students, survivors and communities research and recognize residential school sites in Alberta.
Educating the public service
More than 14,500 Alberta Public Service (APS) employees have completed the Indigenous Introductory Training, including front-line workers and employees of government agencies, boards, and commissions.
This one-day training session involves learning with Elders through sharing circles. Participants learn about Indigenous histories, residential schools, treaties and contemporary issues, and how learners can apply what they learn to their work.
An advanced Indigenous cultural protocol training course is also available. Learning about historical and contemporary Indigenous experiences and perspectives helps Alberta’s public service better represent, understand and work with Indigenous Peoples in the province.
We are making post secondary education more accessible to Indigenous people across Alberta.
Making post-secondary education more accessible for Indigenous people
Indigenous student supports provide financial assistance in Alberta’s adult learning system. There are also scholarships and awards that reduce the overall cost of post-secondary education for Indigenous students.
Other supports for Indigenous learners include:
- Foundational Learning Assistance provides funding to First Nation colleges and other Indigenous training providers for tuition, fees, books, supplies and living allowances for upgrading, basic education and integrated training programs
- funding to CAREERS: The Next Generation, which delivers programs such as the Indigenous Youth Careers Pathway Program, is helping Indigenous youth explore careers through school, community and industry collaboration
- the Indigenous Post-secondary Mental Health Grant, available to First Nations Colleges and mainstream post-secondary institutions in Alberta to help promote positive mental health and accessible supports
Project funding is also available to help Indigenous institutions offer programs that are relevant to and sought after by Indigenous students. Examples include:
- Maskwacis Cultural College’s Early Childhood Development Program, which helps graduates develop an understanding of child development from a Cree academic perspective
- Bow Valley College, in partnership with Red Crow Community College, offers a Child and Youth Care diploma with an Indigenous focus
- Red Crow Community College and University nuhelot’įne thaiyots’į nistameyimâkanak Blue Quills offer Health Care Aide programs
Offering post-secondary programs in Indigenous languages
Three First Nation colleges in Alberta offer credentialed Indigenous language programming for Indigenous students.
- University nuhelot’ine thaiyots’i nistameyimakanak Blue Quills offers a Bachelor of Arts in nêhiyawêwin, a Bachelor of Arts in Dene and a Masters of Arts in Indigenous Languages.
- Maskwacis Cultural College offers a Cree Language Instructor Training program.
- Yellowhead Tribal College offers an Indigenous Languages Degree.
Mainstream post-secondary institutions have also implemented Indigenous language initiatives. The University of Alberta offers an Indigenous Language Teacher program, Cree as a second language courses, and retains the Canadian Indigenous Languages and Literacy Development Institute.
Athabasca University, University of Calgary, University of Lethbridge and Old Sun Community College also offer Indigenous language courses.
We are improving the programs and services available to Indigenous families and making the child intervention system more culturally appropriate and transparent.
Providing high-quality supports to Indigenous children and youth
Government collaborates with Indigenous communities to update its policies and practices to support families in ways that connect culture, ceremony, language and history.
If a child cannot remain safely in their own home, kinship care is always viewed as the first safe placement option to maintain connections between the child and family. A mobile Connections App provides culturally relevant tools for young Indigenous adults who are transitioning into adulthood.
Alberta Family Resource Networks provide prevention and early intervention services that help Indigenous families remain resilient, strong and healthy by connecting them with culturally informed programs.
Providing training for Children’s Services employees
The Indigenous Cultural Understanding Framework was developed and informed by Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers and is used to educate Children’s Services staff about Indigenous cultures, considerations and worldviews.
The framework helps ensure policies, programs and services are developed and delivered in a way that supports better outcomes for Indigenous youth and families
Committing to open, transparent and safe service delivery
The Alberta government shares child intervention data and information with the public. Statistics about children in care are available at the child intervention information and statistics summary.
The government’s goal is to continuously improve systems to better support the safety and well-being of children receiving child intervention services
Apologizing for the Sixties Scoop
The Government of Alberta formally apologized to Sixties Scoop survivors and their families in 2018. Government continues to work closely with the Sixties Scoop Indigenous Society of Alberta to help shape how our government can meaningfully promote awareness and healing.
Fully implementing Jordan’s Principle
Jordan's Principle ensures all First Nations children living in Canada can access essential products, services and supports, wherever they live.
The agreement between the Government of Alberta, Government of Canada and First Nations Health Consortium to fully implement Jordan’s Principle in Alberta was the first of its kind in Canada. It created a process driven by First Nations leaders to help coordinate services, so there are fewer delays when a child needs support.
We are preserving and celebrating Indigenous art, languages and traditions to help support healing and greater recognition of Indigenous cultures and communities.
Repatriating sacred ceremonial objects and access to artifacts
The Royal Alberta Museum has been active in repatriating sacred ceremonial objects to Blackfoot First Nations with the support of a Blackfoot Confederacy Advisory Committee on Museum Relations.
Indigenous content at the Royal Alberta Museum is presented in a variety of ways, including hundreds of objects on display, text panels translated into Indigenous languages and films that can be heard or captioned in many Indigenous languages. The museum cares for about 18,000 objects of Indigenous origin, from the mid-1800s to the present. As the collection grows, museum staff work with Indigenous people to ensure that contemporary and historic experiences are represented in the collections and in displays.
The Royal Alberta Museum provides free admission to all Indigenous peoples.
Providing library access to First Nations and Metis Settlements
The Public Library Services Branch maintains an annual grant program to help eliminate fees and provide access to the Public Library Network’s resources for people living on First Nations and Metis Settlements. The best practices for public libraries in Alberta document includes a section on Indigenous services.
Honouring Indigenous place names
Alberta’s government routinely engages with Indigenous communities to identify and adopt Indigenous place names in Alberta.
In one example, a mountain peak near Canmore was renamed Anû Kathâ Îpa (Bald Eagle Peak), which is a traditional name the Stoney Nakoda people have used for countless generations. Names that are officially changed by the province are also updated on federal databases.
Fostering Indigenous storytelling and cultural exchange
Government funding has helped Voices of the Land share stories from Indigenous people in Alberta on a respectful, community-owned digital space that is open to all library users.
Supporting and preserving Indigenous art
Through the Alberta Foundation for the Arts (AFA), the province provides support for Indigenous arts through grants, programming and art acquisition. Indigenous Arts Individual Project Funding provides grants up to $15,000 to support the development of individual Indigenous artists, arts administrators or an ensemble of Indigenous artists in Alberta by providing funding for a specific cultural or artistic project.
The foundation has also taken steps to ensure there is representation of Indigenous artists in the AFA Collection. For art acquisitions to the collection, artists are paid a fair market price for each piece, unless the art is donated.
Supporting Indigenous language resources
Provincial funding helped open the Indigenous Languages Resource Centre (ILRC) at the Central Library in Calgary. Designed with Elders and Traditional Knowledge Keepers from Treaty 7, the ILRC is a culturally significant space to teach language and culture, share information and encourage storytelling.
Books from the resource centre are available to anyone with an active library card through interlibrary loan, including library patrons who live on a First Nation or Metis Settlement.
Maintaining and distributing Indigenous literature
The Prairie Indigenous E-Book Collection is a first-of-its-kind partnership between the Alberta government and the Book Publishers of Alberta. This digital collection brings together more than 300 titles from publishers in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Stories by Indigenous authors and writing about Indigenous culture are now easier to find. Works in this collection are available for online borrowing from local libraries in Alberta.
We are collaborating with Indigenous communities to improve economic opportunities and to ensure we are true partners in prosperity.
Creating the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation
Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation (AIOC) backstops loans for Indigenous investments in major agriculture, telecommunication, transportation and natural resource development projects.
The first of its kind in Canada, AIOC is a Crown Corporation that supports Indigenous communities or investment groups to raise capital for projects. By removing financial barriers, AIOC is opening up new revenue streams and job opportunities for Indigenous communities.
Indigenous participation in oil and gas well cleanup
Site Rehabilitation Program (SRP) grant funding is creating jobs for Indigenous people and businesses by cleaning up inactive oil and gas sites in Indigenous communities across Alberta.
Funded by the federal government, this program was made possible by the efforts of the Alberta government, Indigenous communities, businesses, the Indigenous Roundtable and the Metis Settlements General Council.
Supporting economic development in Indigenous communities
The Aboriginal Business Investment Fund (ABIF) funds eligible Indigenous community-owned economic development projects. ABIF supports capital costs for businesses that increase employment opportunities and local revenue streams for Indigenous communities.
Overall benefits of ABIF and its partnership with communities include:
- adding more Indigenous community-owned businesses in Alberta
- creating more job opportunities for Indigenous people
- creating or increasing local revenue streams
Improving job opportunities and readiness
The Employment Partnerships Program (EPP) is a federal-provincial partnership that funds programs that help connect Indigenous people to employment. Applications will open again in August 2022. The program’s main priorities are to:
- provide direct training and employment supports
- foster industry partnerships to improve access to better job opportunities
- provide better labour market information to meet the demand for skills
Alberta also works with and supports Indigenous organizations, like the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women, that provide job readiness and retention programs to Indigenous people across the province.
We are working to revitalize and expand opportunities to educate youth across Alberta about Indigenous history, culture and perspectives.
Preserving and teaching Indigenous languages
Indigenous Languages in Education grants supported Indigenous language, culture and programs by working with Elders to gather local stories, lessons and new ways to teach the language. Videos that capture oral storytelling and ceremonies, as well as translations of oral stories, are some of the tools that have been integrated into Alberta’s curriculum.
The government also provided funding to the Siksikaitsitapi – Niitsipowahsin (Blackfoot Confederacy and language) Project in Siksika, Piikani and Kainai Nations. This project developed new tools that are making it easier for educators to teach the Blackfoot language, culture and history.
Integrating Indigenous histories, cultures and perspectives in the curriculum
Alberta is rebalancing the education system by including more content on the history and legacy of residential schools, as well as local Indigenous knowledge, wisdom and oral traditions.
The new curriculum will place more emphasis on First Nations, Métis and Inuit content than any previous Alberta curriculum. Every student in the province will learn about the diverse Indigenous Peoples of this land and how they contribute to the vibrancy and fabric of Canadian society.
Improving best practices in the education system
Government is pursuing initiatives to support more inclusive and expansive Indigenous education for all students in Alberta.
These initiatives include funding to address the systemic achievement gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students by preserving and revitalizing language, providing teachers with professional development opportunities and expanding resources and capacity.
Regularly updating professional practice standards ensures that all educational professionals have knowledge and understanding of Indigenous cultures, experiences and perspectives, including the legacy of residential schools and treaties.
Senior-level leadership dedicated to Indigenous content
Alberta Education’s First Nations, Métis and Inuit Directorate works collaboratively with Indigenous students, parents, Elders, governments, communities, organizations and other partners to strive for excellence in Indigenous education.
New Fort Chipewyan partnership to improve education
The Government of Alberta is continuing to work closely with the Fort Chipewyan community to support student success, improve educational outcomes and advance reconciliation through culturally appropriate education.
We are developing supports for culturally appropriate parenting programs, shelters for Indigenous women and programs for children with disabilities.
Developing culturally informed parenting programs
Through Family Resource Networks, Indigenous families have access to culturally appropriate prevention and early intervention programs and services. Indigenous children and families have access to high-quality support, regardless of location.
There are 15 Indigenous Family Resource Networks providing these services in Alberta. There are also five designated Indigenous Parent Link Centres in the province that provide core services in the context of the Indigenous communities they are working in.
Providing support for Indigenous people with disabilities
Alberta’s government provides support to the Indigenous families of children with disabilities through the Family Support for Children with Disabilities program, which is available on First Nations and Metis Settlements.
The government continues to work with First Nations on opportunities to improve access to support. It is also working with the federal government to extend services to adults with developmental disabilities living on First Nations.
Addressing and preventing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)
The FASD cross-ministry committee has made Alberta a leader by supporting a coordinated response and an inclusive range of services that is respectful of community diversity.
Alberta’s 12 FASD Service Networks offer services to all people in Alberta, including culturally appropriate FASD support to Indigenous people:
- Siksika Nation delivers a holistic FASD support and prevention program reflective of traditional values and the culture of their community.
- The Northwest Central Alberta FASD Services Network provides support to the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation.
- The Prairie Central FASD Association works with the Pê Sâkâstêw Centre to provide in house FASD supports and access to assessment and diagnostic services.
- The CASA First Nation program removes barriers to services and provides community-based access to support.
The Metis Settlements FASD Network serves the 8 Metis Settlements in Alberta, ensuring Métis voices are included in the planning of programs and services. The Métis Nation of Alberta also provides ongoing FASD prevention and education programming to meet the unique needs of Métis people in Alberta.
Indigenous Housing Capital Program
The Indigenous Housing Capital Program provides funding for Indigenous governments and organizations, housing providers, municipalities, and non-profits to build affordable housing. Funding is used to increase the supply of affordable off-reserve, off-settlement and on-settlement housing units for Indigenous peoples.
We are working with Indigenous groups on shared health priorities and providing funding for Indigenous health programs that are culturally informed.
Working together to improve health outcomes for Indigenous people
Alberta Health Services (AHS) worked with the AHS Indigenous Wisdom Council to produce Indigenous Health Commitments: Roadmap to Wellness, a framework that sets out a clear path to better treatment for Indigenous people across the province.
Alberta’s government collaborates with Indigenous communities to improve healthcare through some provincial agreements. Priorities include addressing:
- women’s health
- primary care
- seniors and continuing care
- chronic disease management
- mental health and addictions
Alberta’s government is committed to Jordan’s Principle, so First Nations children on and off reserve have access to the health, education and social supports they require to reach their potential.
Mental health programs that serve Indigenous people
Alberta's government supports programs focused on the mental health needs of Indigenous people across the province. In July 2021, government pledged $8 million for mental health supports for Indigenous people.
This funding is supporting programs like the AHS Indigenous Wellness Core, which provides culturally appropriate and accessible health-care services for Indigenous people across Alberta. AHS is also coordinating Honouring Life grants, supporting more than 50 Indigenous communities and organizations to implement community-based, life promotion projects on youth suicide prevention efforts.
Additionally, government funding increased Indigenous access to mental health and addiction services across the province, including grants to the:
- Metis Settlements General Council to create a regional addictions and mental health navigator to improve access for people living in Metis Settlements
- Métis Nation of Alberta Association for a community wellness advocate to help Métis people access mental health supports and services
- Aseniwuche Winewak Nation for its mental health and addiction program to help enhance its services in a culturally sensitive way
- Central Alberta Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Society to provide training and support
- Kee Tas Kee Now Tribal Council to integrate mental health and addiction services for people in Whitefish Lake First Nation, Peerless Trout First Nation, Loon River First Nation, Lubicon Lake Band and Woodland Cree First Nation
- Stoney Nakoda Tsuut’ina Tribal Council to help expand the service delivery of four health centres on the Stoney and Tsuut’ina First Nations
Working with First Nations to reduce surgery wait times
Enoch Cree Nation, in partnership with Surgical Centres Inc., is building a state-of-the-art, chartered surgical facility. The Nation is working with Alberta Health Services to offer up to 3,000 publicly funded hip and knee replacements and other joint procedures in the Edmonton area each year when the facility is up and running.
This will be one of the first surgical facilities built on First Nation land in Canada. Former Enoch Cree Chief Billy Morin, said “this move will offer Indigenous people the opportunity to get care in a place where they can be addressed in their own languages and provided with traditional healing and medicines. It will also provide career opportunities in the health profession for Indigenous people.”
Helping Indigenous partners respond to COVID-19
Alberta's government supported Indigenous communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to make sure they were prepared and had access to the necessary supplies and services. Working with Indigenous Services Canada, we made certain that Indigenous leadership had accurate and up-to-date information.
Due to the increased risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19, the government worked to provide prioritized access to Indigenous people across the province during every phase of the vaccine rollout.
Alberta’s government supported a mobile vaccination clinic that visited remote Indigenous communities and also provided vaccines, equipment and test kits to First Nations and Métis health centres, Friendship Centres and pop-up clinics in urban areas.
Improving addiction treatment services for Indigenous people
Alberta's government supports Indigenous addiction treatment centres and projects across the province, including:
- the Kainai Transition Centre Society for the Building Bridges from Care to Home program
- the Blood Tribe to expand the Kottakinoona Awaahkapiiyaawa safe withdrawal management site from 6 beds to 24
- Poundmaker’s Lodge Treatment Centres to create 28 new residential addiction treatment beds, fund 7 existing beds and upgrade 5 medically supported detox beds at the Iskwew Health Lodge women’s program
- Sunrise Healing Lodge for 156 more treatment spaces. This program blends Indigenous culture with the 12-step program, so clients can remain connected with their cultural identity and spirituality.
Addressing racism in Alberta’s health-care system
Alberta Health Services provides cultural training for its staff and is reviewing which interventions may change potential racist behaviour in the workforce.
The government works with the Health Quality Council of Alberta to compile Indigenous feedback on the patient complaint process. This guides improvements to the organizational culture of Alberta’s health system to achieve equality for all people.
A new support line is being piloted in northwest Alberta to help Indigenous people navigate the health system. Indigenous people can call whether they are currently receiving care or not. Callers will reach Indigenous employees who will answer questions, address concerns and provide assistance accessing culturally appropriate care on their healthcare journey.
Better continuing care for Indigenous people
Ongoing funding is being provided for Indigenous people to build continuing care spaces that would provide culturally appropriate care.
We are supporting the social, economic and physical well-being of Indigenous women and ensuring their voices are heard.
Addressing the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIWG)
Following the advice of the Alberta Joint Working Group on MMIWG, the government created a Premier’s Council that will recommend actions and identify gaps that need to be addressed to eliminate gender-based violence against Indigenous people in Alberta.
Indigenous women on the Premier’s Council will provide insight into the voices of those with lived experiences through a trauma-informed lens. During its 5-year mandate, the Premier’s Council will guide government's actions using Alberta’s MMIWG roadmap as it works toward reducing violence and improving safety and economic security for Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people.
Connecting families to the services they need
The Alberta government supports a variety of organizations that address gender-based violence against Indigenous people. This includes funding to the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women to support programs from mental health and advocacy to job readiness programs.
The Family Information Liaison Unit is a single point of contact for families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
The liaison unit can help families access:
- information about the justice system and legal processes
- updates on criminal investigations, court proceedings and fatality inquiries involving their loved ones
- connections to counselling, spiritual support and Elders
- information about a loved one who is missing and murdered in another jurisdiction
Providing shelters and programs that better serve Indigenous women
Alberta supports women’s shelters that provide culturally responsive care for Indigenous families impacted by violence, including the Awo Taan Healing Lodge Society, which offers Indigenous-led holistic services guided by traditional teachings.
Many Alberta shelters work with Elders and other respected leaders to strengthen their services through trauma-informed education and other culturally relevant training. Various Catholic Social Services shelters offer cultural connectors that support Indigenous women and children.
The Alberta government provides grants to programs dealing with family violence prevention and sexual violence prevention, including specific funding for culturally appropriate parenting programs for Indigenous families.
Gathering economic input from Indigenous women
The First Nations and Métis Women’s Councils on Economic Security make recommendations for the Alberta government on policies, programs and services to improve the lives of Indigenous women, their families and communities.
The Alberta government has taken action on the following recommendations:
- launched an Indigenous services web portal to improve access to government programs and services
- provided funding support for leadership and empowerment initiatives for young Indigenous women
- funded a cultural initiative at Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary that highlights the traditional roles of Indigenous women
- provided funding to help create a provincial Indigenous tourism group
We are helping Indigenous people navigate the court system, addressing barriers to support and providing services that are culturally appropriate.
Including Indigenous input on public safety initiatives and policies
The Public Security Indigenous Advisory Group, composed of Indigenous leaders, will help develop solutions and strategies to improve public safety in Indigenous communities and across Alberta. Members will provide advice on public safety initiatives, including police and peace officer reform, restorative justice, victim services and crime prevention.
Providing assistance in the court system
The Indigenous Courtwork Program provides support and advice to Indigenous people appearing in the criminal, youth, and family divisions of the provincial court. The Alberta government provides funding to multiple organizations that provide this service in the province.
Workers help Indigenous litigants before, during and after the court process. They also provide critical information to the courts regarding the circumstances of the accused at the time of sentencing, and they can help connect litigants with programs, services and restorative justice options that are available within their local community.
Indigenous offenders charged with minor offenses may be able to complete the Alternative Measures Program. This program is meant to remove systemic barriers that may keep Indigenous offenders from getting help. It uses a restorative justice approach and supports Indigenous cultural or spiritual needs.
Providing cultural programming and services for Indigenous inmates
Indigenous Elders and program coordinators who are familiar with the issues facing Indigenous inmates and communities offer programs in Alberta’s correctional centres, as well as for individuals serving community-based sentences.
Several universities receive grants for inmate programs in correctional centres, which help to deliver Indigenous-specific courses, including:
- Lethbridge College’s Indigenous release planning course at Lethbridge Correctional Centre
- Northern Lakes College’s Aboriginal Arts and Craft Course at Peace River Correctional Centre
Creating Indigenous Courts
Indigenous courts respond to the unique challenges and circumstances of Indigenous people. They seek to address the issue of overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the justice system by focusing on peacemaking and connecting with culture and community.
The Edmonton Indigenous Court and Calgary Indigenous Court are part of the provincial court system and are working to provide culturally relevant, restorative and holistic systems of justice for Indigenous people.
Expanding Indigenous police services
Alberta’s government is funding 15 new police officers for the 3 First Nations police services in the province to address demand and underfunding from federal sources. The Kainai Nation, Tsuut’ina Nation and Lakeshore Regional police services will each be able to hire 5 police officers as a result.
Alberta also created a new Community Policing Grant that will help Indigenous and municipal communities develop a business case for their own stand-alone police service or a regional equivalent.
In September 2022, the Alberta government and the Siksika Nation reached a deal allowing the First Nation to take over policing responsibilities from the RCMP, creating Canada’s first self-administered First Nation police service in 14 years.
Providing cultural awareness training and education
We provide Indigenous cultural awareness training to all government staff, including corrections officers, peace officers and probation officers. The training deals with the diversity of Indigenous cultures, dispels myths, describes the role of Elders and highlights the programs and ceremonies provided in Alberta’s correctional centres.
The session also includes a screening of the documentary Home Fire to teach recruits about the history of Indigenous Peoples in Canada and the effects of colonialism and residential schools.
The government worked with the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Law to develop courses that teach law students about the effects of colonization, residential schools and the loss of Indigenous cultural connections.
Lawyers in Alberta are urged to complete the five-hour Law Society of Alberta training The Path – Your Journey Through Indigenous Canada. The Alberta Crown Prosecution Service also provides other learning opportunities to actively combat systemic issues that are contributing to the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system.
Appointing Indigenous members to Public Safety Committee
Ten members from Indigenous communities across the province have been appointed to the Public Security Indigenous Advisory Committee to play a central role in providing advice and recommendations that improve public safety throughout Alberta. Members will advise government in issues such as police and peace officer reform, restorative justice, victim services and crime prevention.
We understand there are many paths that lead toward reconciliation and we are taking this journey through a number of other initiatives.
Ensuring Indigenous input into land-use planning
Alberta works with Indigenous communities and organizations to make informed plans around the use of land and to support Indigenous traditional uses, environmental conservation, recreation and economic development.
These include initiatives such as the Moose Lake Access Management Plan, the expansion of Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland Park, caribou sub-regional task forces, the cooperative management of wildland provincial parks in Northeast Alberta, the Springbank Off-stream Reservoir and surface water quality management frameworks.
Transferring a historic cemetery to the Enoch Cree Nation
Alberta’s government is returning land that holds a historic Indigenous cemetery to the Enoch Cree Nation, a First Nation west of Edmonton. This small parcel of land was part of Enoch Cree Nation reserve land until the federal government encouraged its surrender in 1908.
Eliminating the Alberta Indian Tax Exemption Card
To remove barriers for First Nations people, the Alberta Indian Tax Exemption (AITE) card has been eliminated. Eligible First Nations customers only need their federal Certificate of Indian Status card (status card) to make tax exempt purchases made on First Nations.
Engaging Indigenous youth through recreational and cultural activity
Alberta's Future Leaders Program collaborates with Indigenous communities in Alberta to provide annual summer youth programs. Youth are engaged through sport, arts, recreation, leadership and cultural activities that are facilitated by mentors who live and work in the community.
Funding for YMCA Calgary’s Camp Chief Hector supports stronger community relationships between campers and local Indigenous groups, and this YMCA chapter has worked on programming changes to keep the organization on a path to reconciliation.
Taking action against racism in Alberta
The Alberta government’s Anti-Racism Action Plan outlines actions that will help educate people about the value of diversity, remove systemic barriers to accessing government programs and services and ensure people in Alberta have equal access to information, resources, services and opportunities. There was Indigenous representation on the council that developed the plan.
Developing mutually beneficial agreements
Protocol and relationship agreements create a more formal way for the Alberta government and Indigenous communities to work together. They support meaningful discussion, information sharing and collaboration on issues of mutual concern.
Alberta-Stoney Nakoda-Tsuut’ina Tribal Council Protocol Agreement. Government-to-government discussions are about health, economic growth, education, family services and housing.
Alberta-Blackfoot Confederacy Protocol Agreement. The agreement outlines a shared commitment to talk about education, environment and lands, health, economic development and employment, and political and legal areas.
Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations. Priority areas of the agreement include land and resources, health care, education, justice and policing, family services and housing.
Metis Settlements Protocol Agreement. The agreement signed between Alberta’s government and the general council is a pledge to work together to advance the long-term sustainability of the Metis Settlements by focusing on social, economic and cultural objectives, such as creating local jobs and improving access to health care. This will help contribute to safer, healthier and more viable communities.
Partnering with Fort McKay Métis Nation
A Memorandum of Understanding with the Fort McKay Métis Nation Association (FMMNA) captures the spirit of partnership and prosperity between Alberta’s government and all Indigenous communities. This partnership is meant to increase access to provincial skills training opportunities and better education outcomes. The agreement is a shared vision to work together on infrastructure funding and towards community sustainability.
Developing Indigenous-focused occupational health and safety materials
A health and safety toolkit was developed to enhance First Nation, Métis and Inuit, employer and worker awareness and knowledge of occupational health and safety (OHS) information and resources. The toolkit supplies employers and workers with the tools they need to stay healthy and safe on the job and foster a positive health and safety workplace culture.
Community Policing Grant applications now open
Indigenous and municipal communities in Alberta can now apply for a one-time grant of up to $30,000 to develop a business case for their own self-administered police service or regional equivalent.
Reducing barriers to harvesting rights
The Alberta government is working with Indigenous leaders on a non-license alternative for harvesting fish for food. Updates will be posted when they are available.
Investing in high-speed internet
The Alberta government is committing $390 million over four years to improve access to high-speed internet in rural, remote and Indigenous communities through Alberta’s Broadband Strategy. The Government of Canada is matching these funds dollar-for-dollar, making $780 million available for Alberta broadband projects.
As part of this funding, the Canadian and Albertan governments are investing $70.6 million to connect more than 10,400 households across the province, including 2,700 Indigenous households, to high-speed internet. As part of this allocation, Tsuut’ina Nation will receive $2.6 million to connect more than 300 households.
Looking for supports?
- Indian Residential Schools Hotline: 1-800-721-0066
- Supports for families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls
- 24-hour Mental Health Help Line: 1-877-303-2642
- Access to other services: 211
- Indigenous organizations and services directory