Edmonton reveals task force members to study community safety, role of police

The city has announced the members of the new community safety and well-being task force, a product of the lengthy motion council passed in July after weeks of public hearings on policing.

MacEwan University president to chair community safety and well-being task force

City council approved the Community Safety and Well-being Task Force in early July after weeks of public hearings into policing in Edmonton. (CBC)

The city announced 11 members of the new community safety and well-being task force Tuesday.

City council approved the members of the task force, created in July after weeks of public hearings on policing, last week. 

Participants come from diverse backgrounds and have valuable skills, knowledge and understanding of community safety, the city said in a news release Tuesday.

"The task force will work independently to develop recommendations to address racism, discrimination, excessive use of force, poverty and homelessness in Edmonton," the release said. 

Its work will be based on trends, best practices and change models from across Canada, the city says. 

Mayor Don Iveson called the task force an important step in the city's effort to address racism, inequality and systemic barriers. 

"By giving Edmontonians direct input into the evolution of community safety in Edmonton, this task force will help city council achieve our goal of building a more just and safe Edmonton."

The task force will be chaired by Annette Trimbee, president and vice-chancellor of MacEwan University. 

A member of the Manitoba Métis Federation, Trimbee developed an Indigenous course required by undergraduate students attending the University of Winnipeg, among the first of its kind in Canada.

Other community members on the task force include:

  • Irfan Chaudhry, director of the Office of Human Rights, Diversity and Equity at MacEwan University.
  • Mohamed Ali, a Somali-Canadian raised in Edmonton and former chair of the Social Equity Committee on Edmonton's Youth Council.
  • Marni Panas, a well-known LGBTQ activist.
  • Rob Houle from Swan River First Nation, who experienced brutality at the hands of the Edmonton Police Service in 2005.

Houle spoke at length about his experience during public hearings this summer.

The full list of members can be found on the city's website. 

The task force is expected to prepare a written report to city council by March 31.

Its creation was highly criticized in July by two members of the academic community.

Ubaka Ogbogu, associate professor of law at the University of Alberta, said the task force is a waste of time and would include members who haven't been affected diversely by police actions. 

Temitope Oriola, an associate professor of sociology at the U of A, said the community should be wary about yet more boards and panels examining an issue that has been well studied. 

Another five people — two from the Edmonton Police Service, two city employees and one from the Edmonton Police Commission — will participate in the task force. 

Salima Ebrahim, interim chief of staff to the city manager, and Jaimy Miller, director of Indigenous Relations, are the City of Edmonton's representatives on the task force. 

Edmonton Police Service representatives include 23-year member Insp. Dan Jones and Enyinnah Okere, executive director of the value and impact division.

Karen MacKenzie, a Cree-Métis businessperson, will represent the police commission.