City 'matriarch' role would increase safety for Saskatoon's Indigenous women, girls and two-spirited people: report

Saskatoon City Hall is pictured in this file photo. (Chad Hills/CTV Saskatoon)

A report heading to a city committee next week recommends the creation of an Independent Office of the Representative Matriarchs that will work to create a centre to support Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people (IWG2S), and a formalized city "matriarch" role within the city.

"She would act as aunties do," said Melissa Cote, the city's indigenous initiatives director.

"Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people know they can go to an auntie with anything and an auntie will provide advice," Cote said in a news release.

In July 2019 following Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, city council asked administration to find ways the city might respond to the report's calls for justice.

In November 2020, the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and Two Spirit Advisory Group was created.

The advisory group along with the input of community members informs the report which argues against relying solely on non-profit organizations to provide support for IWG2S.

"A realistic response to missing and murdered IWG2S is to plan from the beginning to provide life-saving essential servies such that IWG2S are safe and secure, at home in Saskatoon," the report says.

"The City needs an IWG2S support infrastructure with a crisis response, outreach, and public education mandate, akin to the fire Department, combined with a guidance, accountability, and transparency mandate, akin to the Office of the Integrity Commissioner.

The report will be discussed at a city council committee meeting on Monday.