It was a perfect day

It was a perfect day and a wonderful event from beginning to end. Thank you to all who consulted and volunteered for the creation of today’s rally and to all of the presenters involved.

Maureen Tommy, and Debra Toporowski stand with Dora Wilson for the welcome and prayer
Maureen Tommy, and Debra Toporowski stand with Dora Wilson for the welcome and prayer

We were honoured to have Dora Wilson there to open the rally with her daughter, Maureen Tommy, who drummed the welcome.

Debra Toporowski North Cowichan Councillor spoke eloquently about enfranchisement and disenfranchisement in the context of colonialism, relating her mother’s own story. Debra introduced our first speakers, Kiara Child, Natalya Child, Talia Child, Kwakiutl Youth Dancers recently returned from the United Nations General Assembly for the 2019 Year of Indigenous Languages. They were exceptional in every way.

Alistair MacGregor for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford spoke of growing up on a farm with strong women models and introduced Katy Ehrlich of Alderlea Farm & Cafe. Katy spoke of overcoming the programming of youth to aspire to things she was told were impossible for women to do and told stories from her upcoming book.

Ellen Oxman of the BC Ferry & Marine Workers’ Union and MoveUP,  introduced Jenn MacPherson of the Nanaimo Duncan District Labour Council, who spoke of the importance of education and who also introduced Joanna Lord, the newly acclaimed Executive Vice President of the BCGEU. Joanna also spoke of the importance of education and what it delivers to society.

They were followed by Helga Lambrecht of the Cowichan Spirit of Women introducing keynote speaker and bursary recipient Lisa Webster, who recently graduated with an MA from Vancouver Island University‘s Community Planning. Lisa, who is also a senior environmental specialist with the Federal Government, and a slam poet, presented her talk as a series of spoken word performances.

This was followed by Jenni Capps brilliantly well-researched introduction of poet Sonnet L’Abbé, who closed the rally by leading us all in the feminist classic Bread & Roses, before presenting some of her own poetry and completing the day with a moving rendition of Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise set to music, which she sang, and included a call and response with the audience.

REDress Team
REDress and Warmland Women

It was our privilege to host the REDress project, conceived by Metis artist Jaime Black. and presented locally by Kendra Thomas of Warmland Women’s Support Services.

All photos except REDress project by Jasmine Hurmuses

Sponsors: Nanaimo Duncan & District Labour Council, BC Ferry & Marine Workers Union, BC Federation of Labour, MoveUp, United Steelworkers Local 1-1937, WOS Local 1-1937, Unifor BC Regional Council, Old Farm Market, The Dog House, Cowichan Valley Voice, David Coulson Design, Cherry Point Estate Wines, Alistair McGregor MP, a good mind

Partners: Warmland Women, Cowichan Women Against Violence Society, Cowichan Intercultural Society, Matraea Centre, Hub Film Club, Reel Alternatives, Cowichan Discourse,, VIU’s Fabulous Film Series, VIRL Cowichan & VIRL South Cowichan, Ay Lelum-The Good House of Design, Salish Eye Productions, Duncan Showroom, Osborne Bay Pub, Beverley McKeen, Genevieve Charbonneau

Thank you especially to Tilman HainleEllen TheresaMiller VickiDeb MonkmanJasmine HurmusesDebra Toporowski North Cowichan CouncillorJacqueline RonsonPatricia Eckhardt, Melanie Watson, Lia Versavel, Hilary HenegarJeff VirlDusty Palmer, and Rupert Koyote.

National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

walking with our sisters

Our women, girls, and LGBTQ2S are sacred. We would like to recognize every single family member and loved one of the missing or murdered Indigenous women, girls, and LGBTQ2S people in Canada. We want to express our deepest sympathies for your loss and we are grateful for every story that you will choose to share with us in the search for the truth.

National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls link

Over the last several months we have been determining our strategy for how best to move forward in this National Inquiry. Our mission is to learn the truth by honouring the lives and legacies of Indigenous women, girls and members of the LGBTQ2S community. This encompasses three goals:

  1. Finding the truth
  2. Honouring the truth
  3. Giving life to the truth as a path to healing

As we examine the systemic causes of all forms of violence against Indigenous women, girls and members of the LGBTQ2S community in Canada, we are putting the families first. Our values are honesty, openness, inclusivity, compassion, courage, fairness and respect. We are seeking the truth about missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and LGBTQ2S people while—most importantly—holding our women, girls and LGBTQ2S people sacred. It is our goal to provide those sharing their stories with a culturally safe space that they can access with support surrounding them. Our work is connected to the land and rooted in traditions that have kept Indigenous communities strong for thousands of years.

Da-Namaamin Moseyang Giw-Ganchigaazjig Kwewag

Da-namaamin moseyang giw-ganchigaazjig kwewag

Da-Namaamin Moseyang Giw-Ganchigaazjig Kwewag, “We will walk in prayer for those murdered women,” is a grassroots Indigenous-led action and means for us to respond to the murders and disappearances of Indigenous women, girls, and future generations.

Our journey across Turtle Island (Canada) is a way to heal ourselves and revitalize our traditional roles as Women, Men, and Two-Spirit People. The Prayer Walk is also a way for us to show women, girls, and victims’ families that we care. We believe our Indigenous nations must take the lead in healing within our communities. To this end, we advocate for increased support for Indigenous-led solutions to end violence against Indigenous women and girls.