Issues impacting indigenous people and people with complex needs, and addressing discrimination have been identified as priorities for Red Deer in a report from the Welcoming and Inclusive Communities Network.
Creating a mechanism for reporting and responding to incidents of discrimination is one of the recommendations in the network’s action plan.
“What we’ve done with this needs assessment is identify some gaps. What we want to do is just make sure those gaps are being addressed in the best way possible,” said network co-chair Andrea Lacoursiere who presented the network’s report to city council on Monday.
She said more dialogue with funders like the city’s social planning department to access support for needed programs is required.
“We are a network of community agencies and community members and we don’t have funding so there’s not a lot of things we can do apart from using our voice and that’s what here doing here today.”
She said walking around downtown she sees gaps that are not being addressed like the increase in intravenous drug use.
“The opioid crisis is becoming an epidemic that we are not equipped to handle in this city.”
She said through the years Red Deer has become a more inclusive community.
“But there is a temperature that seems to be rising around hate groups. We saw it three weeks ago at Lindsay Thurber. It’s a part of our reality. We have to address it and we have to look to our leadership for a mechanism to address it,” Lacoursiere said.
The network asked that the city advocate and support culturally safe relations between the city and indigenous people and the agencies serving them, and that councillors and senior administration make a concerted effort to be more visible and actively support the most vulnerable and marginalized.
Mayor Tara Veer said the city has prioritized building an accessible and welcoming community as one of community’s major employers and in terms of its responsibility to build community.
“(The network) did commend the efforts of our Urban Aboriginal Voices protocol which of course we adopted last week which is our governance-to-governance framework by which we’ll consider all future requests that come to us from the indigenous community in Red Deer.”