A 15-year-old teen, who was a victim of sexual abuse as a child, says she was snubbed by Premier Alison Redford when trying to talk about victims' issues.
Alison Lee says she met Redford in Lethbridge Saturday, during a stop on the premier’s Building Alberta tour.
"I was going to meet the premier and I was pretty excited about it because I had a really important question for her," said Lee in a video posted on YouTube.
"I really wanted to ask her when the government is going to see it as mandate, when they're going to even give it a thought," she said.
Redford reportedly told Lee money had already been dedicated for mental health issues in Alberta.
When Lee's mom mentioned mental health wasn't the same as sexual abuse, Lee says Redford ended the meeting abruptly.
"I don't exist, I'm nothing.. I guess that's what the premier said to me," she says in the video.
Story continues after photo (taken before the meeting)
Lethbridge-East MLA Bridget Pastoor, a witness to the the exchange, told the Lethbridge Herald that Redford did spend time on giving an in-depth answer, explaining program funding and having a “very civil” conversation with Lee.
In response to the incident, the Office of the Premier issued the following statement:
"Wildrose MLA Ian Donovan had asked the Premier to make time to take an informal photo with Alison. The Premier was pleased to do it. After the photo, she had a good chat with Alison and was happy to answer her question about Little Warriors. Alison's mother later thanked the Premier's Office for the conversation."
The video has touched a nerve with many who are highlighting the importance of supporting victims of child sexual abuse.
"This is a poor example of leadership and an extreme lack of compassion on behalf of the Premier," Theo Fleury, a former NHL player who also faced sexual abuse as a child, posted on Facebook.
“Supporting the victims of heinous crimes should be the top priority for any government,” said Wildrose Justice Critic Shayne Saskiw.
Care for victims of child sexual abuse is something you'd expect was already taken care of, says Lee, but once you're a victim you realize there's little support.
Lee, who says she was abused at the age of six, was going to receive counselling from Alberta Health Services but because she lives in a small town she faced limited access to resources.
As a result,"they gave priority counselling to the perpetrator instead of the victim," she told the Huffington Post Alberta, explaining her abuser received counselling through the program while she didn't.
According to Human Services Minister Dave Hancock, the Alberta government currently provides $18 million to support programs related to survivors of child sexual abuse.
"We certainly agree and share the goals of Little Warriors," said Hancock's press secretary, Craig Loewen, adding his office is looking to determine the viability of the program before doling out the requested $650,000.
“One of the struggles in this is, it’s an emotional issue and everybody wants to help. The question is, is it helping?” Hancock told the Lethbridge Herald.
“We can’t commit funding to the project until we get the research and evidence, a delivery and treatment plan that shows the viability and the effectiveness. And we haven’t got that. So as far as I’m concerned, it remains an open question,” he added.
One-in-three girls and one-in-six boys will experience an unwanted sexual act and 95 per cent of victims know their perpetrator, according to a report on sexual abuse in Canada.
Lee hopes to educate the premier on what million of victims live through, she says, and remind Redford children across Canada are asking for support.
"I am sorry that she can't see that children in our province need help," she said.
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