Indigenous Women & Girls
Indigenous Women & Girls and Two-Spirit People (IWG2S) - Coming Home
In July 2021, the City made public its report on supporting Saskatoon Indigenous Women & Girls and Two-Spirit People (IWG2S). The report was developed in response to a directive from City Council to identify options for how the City can respond to the Calls for Justice contained within The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (released by the federal government in 2019).
Administration’s first step in responding to Council’s request was to assemble an Advisory Group made of local organizations and people in our community with lived experience. The purpose of the Advisory Group was to provide guidance throughout the process and ensure the final recommendations reflected the voices and interests of those most directly impacted.
After that, the City sought the support of a research firm to lead the development of an action plan on improving the quality of life and health and safety for IWG2S people in Saskatoon experiencing all forms of violence, trauma and/or exploitation. The research team’s mandate was to work in consultation with the Advisory Group to produce trauma-informed recommendations.
Proposed Action Plan
The key recommendations contained in the final report, entitled IWG2S – Coming Home, are:
Phase 1: Hire an Independent Representative of Matriarchs for IWG2S. That person will coordinate, refer, support, review, evaluate and assess, decide, investigate, and advise.
Phase 2: Create an IWG2S Centre to coordinate services that works in tandem with the rest of the City departments and the other agencies offering services to IWG2S.
Phase 3: Extend the Role of the Representative of Matriarchs to become an Officer of Transparency and Accountability.
The report emphasizes that the methods of addressing the exploitation of IWG2S people must be developed, instituted, and administered by the matriarchs in the Indigenous community, as was the case traditionally. It's noted that the input heard again and again by the research team, from a range of diverse voices in our community, was “this is not something that can be done for us or about us. It must be led by those from within.”
The overarching sentiment is that, once Indigenous women are given the mandate and resources to lead, they are the ones who can build trust, establish relationships, and create bridges between IWG2S people, support organizations, and community.
Other Key Insights
The report noted the following:
- Our community benefits from the input of IWG2S people but we are fully realizing these benefits. We need to acknowledge the strength and contributions of IWG2S people versus the suffering. For example, dropping “missing and murdered” from references to supports for Indigenous women and girls.
- We need to recognize that there are IWG2S people that we’re not reaching and will only reach through a new form of intervention.
- Anti-racism work in our community is also necessary since racism and patriarchy are the root causes of the challenges and barriers to creating a safe and secure community for IWG2S people.
The report was presented to City Council’s Governance and Priorities Committee on July 19, 2021, where Administration indicated they would conduct an analysis of the recommendation and ways in which the City could approach implementation.
The Coming Home report was partially funded by the First Nations and Métis Community Partnership Projects, a program of the Ministry of Government Relations.
Honouring of Wicanhpi Duta Win (Red Star Woman)
The above pictured monument stands in front of the Saskatoon Police Headquarters. Her name is Red Star Woman and she is a symbol of grief and hope, honouring Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The design was inspired by a young woman whose Dakota name was Red Star Woman.
Since her installation on May 5, 2017, an annual ceremony has been held at the monument on May 5th to honour victims and their families.