100 Dolls to promote a vision of the Aboriginal women who are missing or have been murdered, to one of dignity and honor. British Columbia must stop housing conditions that are conducive to Native Women being hunted down and killed.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Native Women's Fan Club Part 2

This is Carole James, Leader of the Official Opposition for British Columbia.

We met last night at a mutual friends house, which was a night of fun, laughter and much about just being women.

I have a child's fascination with the power, strength and resiliancy that many of these women contain in their being. I am a true feminist, and realize I must have always been.

This term however, does not really convey emotion where women like many who were at this lovely event last night, are guided by. Not controlled by, but guided by. To make effective change, it must be change that those it's meant to help want to carry on themselves.

I am seeing that in order to do this, there are many things that need to happen.

First, people are not guided by words. They are guided by the process which may have to include holding that hand while they make that journey to self betterment.

Second, the change must be something, you who wants to affect this change, must also live and adhere to. You cannot talk the talk, if you are not prepared to walk the walk.

Third, fight, argue, bare your teeth to the opponent who wants to undermine your efforts. And there will be those people there. This is probably the least publicized aspect of what it takes to affect change. However, as mothers, many of us already do that on a day to day basis. Whether we are looking for the best deal, or best school, or avenues to take care of our children's health needs not covered by health care, we do that.

Empowerment is not easy. Empowerment is not automatic. Empowerment is putting yourself out there for those that you care about and want to hold their hand while they make that journey to self betterment.

I feel I am on this journey, and I feel more importantly that there are those who walking beside me. I know for a fact that is the case, and last night, really put into my heart, others who are walking the same path.

The feeling of being alone is probably one of the most important feelings as a society of native women, of Indigenous women of this land, that we need to eradicate.


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Hansard Notes from Richard T. Lee, MLA Burnaby north

I had met with Mr. Richard T. Lee sometime ago, actually on June 21 2005 (Aboriginal Day) when he attended the blessing of the Aboriginal Angel Dolls in a very small ceremony, at the Chief Dan George Center in Vancouver. The elder who blessed the dolls was the elder who worked at my son's (now defunct) Aboriginal headstart preschool here in Surrey. I was very honored that she wanted to participate and thank her often in my prayers.

My good friend Curtis Joe had danced along with Shama Prya who are both champion dancers that offerred nothing but their traditional gifts of dance.

It so happens, that at the same time, I had one of only two draws for dolls for a raffle, and Mr. Richard T. Lee had won this very special doll. His most recent (announcement on Page 2822 with video link) in the provincial House of Commons on International Women's Day announced to all British Columbia residents that the Spring Equinox is now going to be Indigenous Women's Empowerment Day!

Each doll presents a unique personality, as each is made by hand, with great thought into each piece. It's almost like I would ask the little doll, who are you? What would you like to be presented with? And voila, it would just come together. I have enjoyed each step in the process as it was all a labour of love and devotion.

I will thank Mr. Richard T. Lee with a letter thanking his generous and bold statement in front of his peers. It's those kinds of steps that need to take place in order for the Canadian consciousness to change towards all Aboriginal Women in Canada.

It will happen.

Gloria Larocque

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Indigenous Women's Empowerment Day exists, Her Honours remarks posted

The Spring Equinox has been claimed by Indigenous women of this land as a time to empower each other for building a stronger foundation built on our own terms.

The Missing/Murdered Aboriginal women of Canada have sufferred many injustices. The least of all that of a memory built upon poor recognition of the systemic barriers, which essentially have created their memory into a faceless "tribe of lost souls".


Today, as I stood at the podium, announcing to those present that: "Today, the Spring Equinox of 2006 will be the start of Indigenous women empowering each other, supporting each other, in ways that will put society in a position that they cannot help but see our value, see the value of our loved ones. We refuse to be dependent on societies interpretation of our loved ones. We do not accept how our loved ones have become faceless. Today, we claim the Spring Equinox as Indigenous Women’s Empowerment Day.", I have to admit I was scared.

I was also mostly tired. I had been up very late getting things ready for that presentation, knowing not only would the queen's representative be there to join in this announcement, but also that my peers, teachers, chief's, and front line workers from the Downtown Eastside be there to hear my words.

It went well. I have to thank all those who attended to make this possible. There are no special days in which to recognize Indigenous women of the land concerns. I choose not to use the term Aboriginal as much. This term does not imply roots as much as Indigenous women does.

As scared as I was, there were friends to support. My family was not there, neither were my boys. As is the case when your a single mother with no resources. There are some things that friends just cannot replace.

As it is, I have found a path for next years proclamation. I will do this every year until there is recognition on the calender year for a day specifically for the Indigenous woman.

The women guest speakers included: Her Honour, Iona Campagnolo (her speech notes), Chief Lea George-Wilson from the Tsliel-waututh nation, Kelly MacDonald B.A., LLB, LLM, Catharine Crow PhD Candidate, and Marlene Trick - who organizes the Downtown Eastside Women's March every February 14th to honour the sites where women have been found murdered on Vancouver's Streets.

The guest speakers who spoke outside of this were given an opportunity to raise their voices which was apparent by all that they needed to. Even Curtis Joe, who was our lead dancer who organized the pow wow dance group, found himself with words to say. His wife had gone missing and was found murdered. He had suggested that perhaps his injury sufferred in last weekend's pow wow forced him to sit this dance out (was dressed in full regalia though), to allow himself to heal also. Since he had not taken time to talk much about his loss. It was quite emotional to see him almost break down and acknowledge that he hadn't taken time to talk about it much in the past. No more shame. No more guilt.

I was truly moved beyond words with things I had heard, the emotions I felt, and the knowledge of the length in time it is taking for anything to be done for these women. But, as is the case, there are those who continue to work, women who are there on the front lines, women like myself working behind the scenes - making them more visible, because if we didn't, they would remain invisible, like they truly did create their own demise. When the reality is, that society has created this situation.

In sisterhood,

Gloria Larocque

Monday, March 13, 2006

One more week!

The next seven days will determine my life in many facets. I take solice in the fact that there were many others before me who have walked these scarey steps and have come out victorious in the sense that they have achieved something.

It is this something which can be interepreted in many different ways. For me, I would like to think that it would be that those who walk out of this event, will be the wiser about one important fact:

That the 500 plus missing/murdered Aboriginal women of Canada did not choose their fates.

Of the other things we will be discussing of course, I certainly would like to hope that there is some absorption of the facts presented. And of what ends do our means provide any hope for the future?

The one thing that I would like to see come out of this, I have given this question much thought, because I want those in attendance to go away thinking what a great idea it is to have these things. Perhaps first and foremost on my wish list - perhaps a royal commission on the missing/murdered Aboriginal women of Canada?

Why not? Who said I couldn't ask? I could at least ask. I will ask.

Second, the cirriculum in Canada has the tiniest amount of Native "history", especially regarding the interaction that is now between these two people. Or about what roles were so helpful in the early parts of Canada. The tiniest amount leads one to think that we were here waiting for the "white man" to come so we can be his "au paires" in this new frontier, to be dismissed once they were able to take care of themselves.

Third - I have found in talking to a few immigrants, is that their knowledge of this interaction between Natives and the Government, is virtually unknown to them. The first thing they know is that we get status - they don't - and then they think how unfair it is when they see "us" squandering it away - or using it wastefully - where on earth did they get that thought?

I guess the truth would hurt. Of the billions that are "poured" into the leaky bucket of Indian Affairs - much of it stays in Indian Affairs - and doesn't really reach the Indians. So, as far as I am concerned, this thought process is part of the canadian experiement on the Native people.

As they go down their checklist of torturous tactics - they found that they had to stop taking our kids and putting them into sexual bordello's for the perverted priests (was this a harsh way to say it??? oops), or denying the women status and removing her from all her identity into another world that did not accept her, or let's see, we haven't tried turning all of society against them that they will be forced to give up these special treats we graciously allow them to have so that they will be forced to assimilate.

Tsk Tsk Tsk

Hhhmmm..so much to discuss...what is my speech going to say...not really sure at this point, but I have to be honest, nothing scares me more than putting words together to speak for this live audiance.

In sisterhood,