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​Message from Kathryn Oviatt, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission

(June 21, 2022)

National Indigenous Peoples Day

June 21 marks National Indigenous Peoples Day. We honour the rich culture and community that Indigenous Albertans have brought and continue to bring to our province today. June 21 also marks the one-year anniversary of the launch of the Commission's Indigenous Human Rights Strategy​. This past year, we worked to improve engagement with Alberta's diverse Indigenous communities, recognizing that our existing systems present barriers for many.

At the end of 2021, we consulted a third party to conduct an external review of our systems, protocols, and staffing structure to develop a deeper understanding of systemic issues for Indigenous Albertans that may exist within the Commission. With guidance from our Indigenous Advisory Circle, we will use the recommendations provided in that review to shape organizational decisions moving forward. We will update Albertans as we make progress on these recommended improvements.

Through revised processes, we aim to reduce the barriers that Indigenous people face when making a human rights complaint or accessing our services. Early in 2022, we implemented a revised human rights complaints process. We reorganized our teams to create a more efficient process that focuses on conciliation. Efforts are also underway to better tackle systemic issues and recognize patterns of discrimination. For example, we are improving our ability to identify where and how discrimination and racism occur with our​ processes by implementing new tools for collecting and analyzing demographic data.

To mark National Indigenous History Month and the first year of the Circle's contributions, we are hosting an in-person ceremony on June 27. Three Elders will provide teachings and leads us as the Commission charts the next steps in our journey of truth and reconciliation. This ceremony is a spiritual agreement between the Alberta Human Rights Commission, the Commission's Indigenous Advisory Circle, and Indigenous communities in Alberta that consecrates the Strategy and helps us to move toward reconciliation by addressing discrimination and racism in the province.

The path towards equity is a long one, and we continue to listen to the Circle to learn how best to engage with and serve Indigenous Peoples throughout the province. Internally, we are striving to improve the accessibility of our services, reduce barriers, and increase our awareness of the lived experiences of Indigenous Peoples. By meaningfully collaborating and building relationships with Indigenous communities and organizations, we will better address the racism and discrimination that is all too prevalent.

On National Indigenous Peoples Day, I encourage organizations and communities to embark on their own journeys towards reconciliation by meaningfully engaging with Indigenous communities to celebrate Indigenous culture and contributions, learn more about our shared history, and take steps to address the barriers and systemic discrimination that exists.

Our vision is a vibrant and inclusive Alberta where the rich diversity of people is celebrated and respected, and where everyone has the opportunity to fully participate in society, free from discrimination.