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Innisfail victim services limping to final demise

Mary Dawn Eggleton resigns as executive director as new regional model set to be launched later this year.
Mary Dawn Eggleton, executive director of Innisfail & District Victim Services since 2020, has left the agency to become the program manager of Red Deer-based Central Alberta Women's Emergency Shelter. Johnnie Bachusky/MVP Staff

INNISFAIL –  The fight is over for Innisfail & District Victim Services.

Mary Dawn Eggleton has left Innisfail & District Victim Services.

The agency she led since 2020, which has served local and area vulnerable citizens since 1996, will morph into a new regional model created by the provincial government.

Eggleton’s resignation was first announced on Jan. 22 at Innisfail RCMP’s Town Hall by Staff Sgt. Ian Ihme, the detachment commander.

“We wish her well. She's fantastic,” Ihme told the Albertan after the town hall meeting.

During Ihme’s presentation on Jan. 22 the town hall audience was told the provincial government was creating a new victim services model that could be a good one for many communities.

“Unfortunately for this community we're losing a great program that we had here because it always worked really well here,” said Ihme. “Unfortunately we lost her (Eggleton), which is a great loss for the detachment.”

Eggleton resigned on Jan. 12 to become the program manager of Red Deer-based Central Alberta Women's Emergency Shelter (CAWES).

“It was an opportunity that I could not pass up,” said Eggleton, adding Innisfail victims services will still be well-served with Makayla Bierkos at the helm. Bierkos was Eggleton’s program administrator.

“I have all the faith that Makayla can operate and run the agency with ethical efficacy. She’s really good at what she does,” said Eggleton, noting her new job will have future connections to Innisfail.

“Women are directed here (CAWES). We don't have anything in Innisfail,” said Eggleton. “When I was in Innisfail we worked in partnership with the Central Alberta Women's Emergency Shelter, so yes that will continue.”

Meanwhile, the provincial government announced last year it was replacing the provinces 62 police-based victim service units to a more regional focused model that will still retain a working relationship with RCMP.

 The new model has four new regional boards representing the province in the east, west, north and south.

 Patricia Bourne, past chair of the board for Innisfail victim services, is now chair of the board for the new Central Alberta Regional Victim Serving Society.

“We're just in the process of recruiting for more board members. We have five on our board right now,” said Bourne. “And the intention is within two years to get up to 14 board members, which would hopefully be located within the rural communities.”

Bourne confirmed it’s her understanding the existing Innisfail & District Victim Services office at the Innisfail RCMP detachment will operate under Bierkos’ supervision until the agency’s demise on Sept. 30, or shortly thereafter.

“We hope for a smooth transition. Frontline services should remain very similar to where they are at today, and hopefully better in some cases,” said Bourne. “And then there will be support, which we didn't have as small units. We didn't have access to HR policies. We had to develop those.”

Bourne said the new society has just hired its new chief executive officer; Michele Moroz, formerly the executive director of the Wetaskiwin Primary Care Network.

Moroz will work out of the central office in Leduc, where there will also be a director of operations, said Bourne.

“And then there'll be assistant directors who will possibly work from their home, somewhere in between Leduc and Innisfail,” said Bourne. “I'm hopeful that now that we have a CEO, job descriptions will be coming out for court and support navigators; I believe (this) week.”

Bourne said a navigator will be assigned to Innisfail.

“This will help existing staff in the local victim services offices to see if they're interested in those positions,” said Bourne. “We hope many of them will be hired and will stay on.”

As for the volunteer advocates, Bourne said they will report to the court and support navigators; the same process that is now in place.


Johnnie Bachusky

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