The Current

Alberta launches investigation into jailing of sexual assault victim

An Indigenous sexual assault victim spent five days in the Edmonton Remand Centre during the trial of her attacker.
Alberta Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley has apologized for the way the justice system treated an Indigenous sexual assault victim. (CBC News)

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Alberta has launched two investigations into the treatment of an Indigenous woman who was the victim of a brutal sexual assault two years ago.

Angela Cardinal — whose real name is protected by a publication ban — was jailed for five days and forced to testify in shackles during the preliminary hearing for the man who assaulted her. 

Related: 'I'm the victim and look at me, I'm in shackles': Alberta sexual assault victim jailed while testifying

In at least two instances, she was transported to the courthouse in the same van with her attacker, and she was kept in a holding cell next to his. 
Angela Cardinal had to travel in a prisoner transport van with Lance Blanchard, the man who sexually assaulted her, on multiple occasions. (Sam Martin/CBC)

CBC's Janice Johnston broke this story. It was information she uncovered that prompted an apology from Alberta's Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley.

Lise Gotell, chair of the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund, is pleased with the way Ganley responded, but says this case deserves more than an apology.

"She [Angela Cardinal] needed to be treated with respect, with dignity and with care," Gotell tells The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.

Gotell believes the province needs to enforce policy changes to fix the systemic failures in its justice system — starting with how it treats Indigenous women.

She needed to be treated with respect, with dignity and with care.- Lise Gotell, Women's Legal Education and Action Fund

"She was … brutally attacked and victimized and we know that Indigenous women are far more likely to experience violence and extreme forms of violence," she says.

Gotell draws connections between Cardinal's story and the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

"There are at least two other cases that I know of … in Alberta where we see extremely dehumanizing treatment of Indigenous women complainants and victims," she says.

"So we have to see this as being part of a pattern and address it in that way."

This segment was produced by The Current's Samira Mohyeddin.