Premier's Council on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
Ashleigh Cardinal is a Two Spirit Nehiyaw (Cree person) from Treaty 6 Territory with roots in Whitefish Lake First Nation #128. She currently resides in Amiskwaciwâskahikan and advocates for the intersecting community of Indigenous, Two Spirit and/or LGBTQQIA+ relations within the Treaty 6 Nation, presently working in the field of corrections and supporting those who are incarcerated. She has been advocating for MMIWG2S+ rights by bringing awareness of gender-based violence and takes a harm reduction approach to amplifying the voices of those who are in the greatest need of support.
Ashleigh currently sits on the Board of Directors with the Edmonton 2 Spirit Society as Co-Chair in her second term of servitude. Ashleigh recently graduated with a Certificate from the Indigenous Women in Community Leadership Enhanced Mentorship Program through St. Francis Xavier University, with a focus on gender-based violence and Criminal Justice. She is currently working towards becoming a certified Addictions Counselor due to her passion in traditional/holistic healing methods for those seeking support in their recovery journey.
Ashleigh is also trained in peer support with certifications such as: Mental Health First Aid, Nonviolent Crisis Intervention and Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training. She currently sits on the Indigenous Action Committee with Pride at Work Canada as a 2S Advisor dedicated to creating safe and inclusive workspaces by way of policy change and education.
Cheryl is a Nehiyaw Iskwew (Cree woman) from Bigstone Cree Nation, Treaty 8 Territory, and she resides in Athabasca. Cheryl is on the Board of the Athabasca Native Friendship Centre and is a certified Trauma Recovery Counsellor, Grief Support Counsellor, Suicide Intervention Counselor and Transformational Coach.
She is a family member and advocate of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Cheryl has also worked in the healthcare field promoting health and wellness for individuals.
Kimmy Houle (Akai’kamotaaki – Survives Many Perils) grew up on the Blood Tribe and is a proud member of the Blackfoot Confederacy. Kimmy obtained her Bachelor of Management from the University of Lethbridge in 2003. Kimmy started working for the Blackfoot Confederacy as the Environment/Economic Development Director in July 2018. Prior to that, she worked with the Government of Alberta for 10 years on a variety of land and natural resource management issues. She was also the Blood Tribe’s Housing Director where she learned the importance of sustainable housing practices and project management.
Kimmy has been part of the Blood Tribe Police Commission since 2019, which provides oversight, governance and supports community-based policing that follows Blackfoot values and ways of knowing. Kimmy is excited to be working with the Premiers Council on MMIWG and empowering all allies in creating meaningful change for the safety of our people.
Meeka Otway is a member of the Wisdom Council for Alberta Health Services. She previously served as an Executive Board member with the Canadian National Inuit Women's Organization, Pauktuutit; the Edmonton Inuit association, Inuit Edmontonmiut; and, on the 2017 Regional Advisory Committee for the National Inquiry into MMIWG. Her past experience includes work as a Liaison for the Indigenous and Global Health Research Unit with the University of Alberta, and as a participant in international Indigenous activism in the Philippines and Guatemala. Meeka was also a Canadian representative for the Secretary General United Nations’ Consultation with Indigenous Leaders.
Josie Nepinak is Anishinabe from Treaty 4 and Executive Director of the Awo Taan Healing Lodge Society in Calgary, Alberta. Josie’s background includes 30 years steeped in complex social issues working with Indigenous organizations and advocacy for Indigenous women and families affected by family violence. She believes in a balanced approach, with teachings of Indigenous wisdom and healing in combination with contemporary western methodologies in promoting the health and well-being of First Nations, Inuit and Métis individuals, families and communities.
She has a Bachelor’s degree in Women's Studies with ongoing education in management and teachings from the traditional knowledge holders. She testified at the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Inquiry in May 2018 on the matter of service organizations, representing the only urban Indigenous Women’s shelter in Alberta. She is also a Board member at the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women, chair of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Committee (Calgary), Research Education for Solutions to Violence and Abuse, the Canadian Domestic Homicide Prevention Initiative and the Canadian Femicide Observatory Justice and Accountability.
Rachelle Venne is the Chief Executive Officer of the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women (IAAW), a position she has held since 2008.
At IAAW, Rachelle has designed several supportive programs and assembled a committed team to address poverty, isolation, violence and discrimination that Indigenous women and Two Spirit people face when trying to advance in Alberta.
The daughter of national advocate Muriel Stanley Venne, Rachelle understands the importance of collaborative solutions with Indigenous women taking the lead. Rachelle was Co-Chair of the Alberta Joint Working Group on MMIWG, and is currently a member of the Métis Women's Economic Security Council and Co-Chair of the Alberta Human Rights Commission Indigenous Advisory Circle.