Wildrose funds Little Warriors with extra MLA pay

By Stephen Dafoe

Edmonton – Three days after announcing the Wildrose Caucus Foundation, a registered fund that will see charities benefit from the 8 per cent pay hike MLAs received last year, the foundation has chosen Little Warriors as its first recipient.

Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith announced Thursday the Caucus Foundation would donate $25,000 to the sexual abuse prevention group, monies to be used towards their Be Brave Ranch, a centre that would provide a 30-day in-treatment program for children who are victims of sexual abuse. The ranch would provide victims with the therapy the organization feels is necessary to help them now and in the future.

“I am very pleased to announce today that the Wildrose Caucus Foundation will be giving $25,000 to an organization that does such invaluable work in our community towards protecting our most vulnerable and helping them heal after horrific crimes committed against them,” Smith said in a release Thursday afternoon. “The Little Warriors organization reflects the priorities of all Albertans in making sure that victims of crime have the resources they deserve.”

The funding comes roughly two months after Little Warriors learned they were unsuccessful in their bid for $650,000 in provincial grant funding towards the Be Brave Ranch. To date, the group has raised $1.6 million for the estimated $3.5-million facility. The additional $650,000 was applied for under two grant programs: $400,000 under the Community Facility Enhancement Program and $250,000 under the Other Initiatives Program. The province indicated during a recent question period in the Legislative Assembly that while they were supportive of Little Warriors and what they were doing to raise awareness and educate the public, they needed to see a business case to show the group would also be successful in delivering treatment through the ranch.

The Wildrose is critical of the decision and suggested Thursday the government should consider using some of the $1.49 million surplus the Wildrose say is in the province’s Victims of Crime fund. “Funding for victims and those who can’t defend themselves should be a priority for our government,” said Wildrose Justice Critic Shayne Saskiw in the release. “This is about ensuring survivors of sexual abuse have a place where they can recover and find peace.”

Local mom pleased

Morinville resident and Little Warriors advocate Brandi, whose last name is being withheld to protect the identity of her daughter who is a victim of child sex abuse, is pleased with the Wildrose Caucus Foundation’s donation. Brandi and her daughter were both scheduled to be at the Legislature Thursday for the announcement; however, they had to turn back due to weather.

“I’m thrilled and proud that Wildrose chose Little Warriors for their first charity donation from the Wildrose Caucus Foundation,” she said. “It speaks to the Wildrose recognizing the importance of what Little Warriors works so hard for, the Be Brave Ranch.”

Brandi said she is pleased the Wildrose continues to keep the issue in front of the PC government. “I only wish the government in power would recognize this intense need,” she said.