Posts tagged "women of color"

Sandra Lovelace Nicholas, a Maliseet woman from New Brunswick’s Tobique Nation,  has been a driving force in securing rights for Aboriginal women in Canada, and is also a wonderful example of the impact one woman can have when she sets out to correct an injustice.

Sandra lost her status when she married a white man, and even once divorced, she and her children didn’t recover her status. At the time, the Tobique band council refused to allocate her a subsidized house. The law made no similar provision for Native men who married non-aboriginals. Women who lost status were effectively barred from having their children educated on the reserve and taking part in band decisions. In 1977, Ms. Lovelace Nicholas took her case to the United Nations human-rights committee, charging that the discriminatory measures in Canada’s Indian Act violated an international covenant on civil and political rights – a case she won in 1981. The law was not reversed until 1985; it took her nearly ten years to recover her status.

Challenging discriminatory provisions of the Indian Act, which deprived Aboriginal women of their status when they married non-Aboriginals, she was instrumental in bringing the case before the United Nations Human Rights Commission and lobbying for the 1985 legislation which reinstated the rights of Aboriginal women and their children in Canada.  In 1990, she was awarded the Order of Canada, and in 1992, she received the Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case. Sandra Lovelace Nicholas’ efforts have helped advance the cause of civil rights in this country, and her pride, strength and determination have made her a role model for many Aboriginal women. A proud mother of 4, she studied at St. Thomas University for 3 years and has a degree in residential construction from the Maine Northern Technical College.  She continues to make her home on the Tobique First Nation.

  (via Sandra M. Lovelace Nicholas)

Beverly K. Jacobs (Gowehgyuseh). She is the current President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada. She was born into the Bear Clan of the Mohawk Nation on the territory of the Six Nations of the Grand River in Southern Ontario. Her traditional name, Gowehgyuseh means “She’s visiting.”

Jacobs is a lawyer by profession and holds a Bachelor of Law Degree from the University of Windsor and a Masters Degree in Law from the University of Saskatchewan. She has taught at the University of Windsor, the University of Toronto, the University of Saskatchewan and Ryerson University and began her career as an entrepreneur and consultant with her own firm, Bear Clan Consulting where she dealt with issues such as Bill C-31, Residential Schools, Matrimonial Real Property, and Aboriginal Women’s health issues.

Jacobs’ work on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal women was inspired by her work with Amnesty International as the Lead Researcher and consultant for their Stolen Sisters Report. This 2004 groundbreaking document highlighted racialized and sexualized violence against Aboriginal women in Canada. Her work with Amnesty International led her to run for President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) in 2004. There she successfully secured funding for Sisters In Spirit, a research, education and policy initiative aimed at raising public awareness about Canada’s missing and murdered Aboriginal women.

In her role as NWAC President she has traveled extensively to raise awareness, rally citizens and inspire young Aboriginal women. Jacobs was re-elected for a second term as President of NWAC in 2006; in the same year she was appointed Chair of the National Aboriginal Council on Species at Risk (NACOSAR), which advises the Minister of Environment and makes recommendations to the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council. In October 2008, Jacobs was honoured by Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, Canadian Department of Peace Initiative, and Civilian Peace Service Canada as one of 50 Canadian women whose work and dedication has helped to further a culture of peace in Canada. In November 2008, she was the recipient of the Governor General’s Award in commemoration of the Persons Case, which salutes Canadian contributions to the advancement of women’s equality 

(via Beverly K. Jacobs)

Sheila Watt-Cloutier. A Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Sheila Watt-Cloutier is in the business of changing public opinion into public policy. Experienced in working with global decision makers for over a decade, Watt-Cloutier offers a new model for 21st Century leadership. She treats the issues of our day — the environment, the economy, foreign policy, global health, and sustainability — not as separate concerns, but as a deeply interconnected whole. Every decision, whether environmental, political or economic, has a profound effect on those far from the corridors of power; to understand this connection is vital to building a sustainable world. This is Watt-Cloutier’s message. At a time when people are seeking solutions, direction, and a sense of hope, this global leader provides a big picture of where we are and where we are headed.

In 2007, Sheila Watt-Cloutier was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her advocacy work in showing the impact of global climate change on human rights — especially in the Arctic, where it is felt more immediately, and more dramatically, than anywhere else in the world. (The Arctic is the planet’s health barometer; what happens in the world happens there first.) By making a human connection – by telling the human stories — she helped a generation see the issue in a newly urgent way. Her advocacy work — not just environmental but all-encompassing — is grounded in human rights, in our shared humanity.

Based in Nunavut, Watt-Cloutier is an Officer of the Order of Canada. She is also the recipient of many prestigious awards, including the Aboriginal Achievement Award, the UN Champion of the Earth Award, and the prestigious Norwegian Sophie Prize. From 1995 - 2002, she was elected the Canadian President of the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC). At the ICC, she was a hugely influential voice in the successful negotiations of the Stockholm Convention, the landmark treaty banning Persistent Organic Pollutants. (POPs end up in the Arctic and have been an alarming health issue for Inuit). She was later elected in 2002 to become the International Chair of the ICC, representing the 155,000 Inuit from Canada, Greenland, Alaska and Russia; she held this post until 2006. Under her leadership, she and 62 fellow Inuit from Canada and Alaska launched the world’s first international legal action on climate change, with a petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. She is the main signatory to the petition. Displaying calm, clear and reflective leadership on various big issues, Watt-Cloutier is a much requested speaker worldwide.

(via Sheila Watt-Cloutier)

Harriet Nahanee was a 73 year old residential school survivor, environmental activist, Pacheedaht (part of the Nuu-chah-nulth indigenous peoples of Vancouver Island) Grandmother, Elder, and Warrior. She passed away on February 24, 2007, in the manner that she lived her life, standing strong defending indigenous land and people. She was a powerful presence who was committed to indigenous education, environmental justice, and indigenous rights. As an Indian Boarding School survivor, Nahanee worked tirelessly to ensure that indigenous education saved what she saw as “the lost generations” and also spoke out about the gendered and cultural impact of Boarding School policies – including rape, murder of babies to hide the evidence, and burial in mass graves, etc. that typified some of the “women’s issues” at Boarding Schools.

She was concerned with re-instilling pride and traditional ways which she saw ran decidedly counter to nation-building in the West and its counter-productive consequences. Harriet died from pneumonia and undiagnosed lung cancer after serving 2 weeks in prison for her part in the 2006 blockade to defend Eagle Bluff, from the expansion of the Sea to Sky Highway, on her husband’s Sḵwxwú7mesh (Squamish) territory. The highway expansion was a key development project for the corrupt Vancouver/Whistler 2010 Winter Olympics.

In her lifetime, Harriet Nahanee was a loyal supporter of AIM Warrior Leonard Peltier, who was extradited from Vancouver in 1976, and convicted of the murder of 2 FBI agents. At the time of her passing Nahanee had been weak from the flu and asthma in January, and it was widely suspected that Nahanee’s condition worsened during her incarceration at the Surrey Pre-Trial Centre. An inquiry into her passing was called for in the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia on March 5. Following the completion of the Inquiry, colonial Solicitor-General John Les said the provincial government expressed “regret” for the passing, but as is so often the case denied any settler-government responsibility and refused opposition requests for an inquiry. She was an inspiration to women and activists everywhere. She was defiant and bold to the last minute.

(via Harriet Nahanee)

Bertha Allen spent her lifetime championing the rights of Aboriginal and Northern women in Canada. Her strength of character and commitment to achieve equality for Aboriginal women was an inspiration. Her role as an activist and leader also led to the creation of numerous training centers for Native women in Yellowknife and Inuvik.   A founding member of the Native Women’s Association of North West Territories, Ms. Allen was laid to rest after succumbing to a lengthy battle with cancer at the age of 76.

A Gwich’in women’s leader who was born in Old Crow, Yukon, Ms. Allen lived most of her life in the Mackenzie Delta area. She was a staunch believer in advancing social change on behalf of Aboriginal and Northern women; and as a result devoted her life toward helping to achieve this equality on a number of fronts. Her involvement dates back to the 1970’s when she helped to found the Native Women’s Association of the Northwest Territories, eventually becoming the organization’s first President. Later on, Ms. Allen conducted work on the issue of gender equality for Aboriginal women by acting nationally as the President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada.

Her involvement in pursuit of equality was expansive. In addition to her leadership roles within NWAC, Ms. Allen also worked on the NWT Constitutional Committee, served on the National Aboriginal Advisory Committee to the RCMP Commissioner, the NWT Judicial Appointments Committee, and the Multicultural Advisory Committee to the RCMP.

In 2005, she was recognized for her leadership and received the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award. This recognition continued on in 2007, when she was named to the Order of Canada. Last year, she was honoured with the Northern Medal by Governor General Michaëlle Jean for her role in supporting equality for Aboriginal and Northern women.

(via NWAC mourns the death of former president Bertha Allen | NWAC/l’AFAC)

More: [Footprints] Bertha Allen fought for equality and empowerment | Windspeaker – AMMSA: Aboriginal news, issues and culture.

 (via Bertha Allen)

Marie Marguerite Rose, a Black slave who lived in Louisbourg in the 18th century, was a key figure in the initial phase of Black slavery in Canada and stood out among emancipated slaves in New France (excluding Louisiana and the Illinois Country). Her capture, transportation and sale into 19 years of slavery are indicative of the presence of slavery in Canada and in the colony of Île Royale during the French Regime, which had an estimated combined population of 1,330 Black slaves.

Marie represents one of several hundred slaves, both African and Aboriginal, who lived at Louisbourg between 1715 and 1758. More significantly, she was one of those rare women who, after years of servitude, obtained her freedom and some measure of independence by running a small tavern. Many details of her life are known, beginning with her birth in Guinea, Africa, continuing with the birth of her son (probably the son of her “owner,” Jean Loppinot) and the boy’s death at the age of 13.

After 19 years of servitude in the Loppinot family, Marie Marguerite Rose became emancipated and, in the fall of 1755, she married a free Mi’kmaw man, Jean Baptiste.

To support herself, she became an innkeeper; she successfully set up her business in a choice location in Louisbourg, at the corner of Saint-Louis Street and Place d’Armes, near the barracks.  Her life was quite exceptional as, unlike the slaves in most colonies in New France, she was able to become emancipated, to marry a free man who was not part of her cultural community, and to carve out a niche among the merchants of Louisbourg. She died just two years later, and the inventory taken after her death gives rare insight into the life of a former slave of the period: her clothes, the simple furniture in her bedroom and tavern, the ingredients in her kitchen and the half-completed sewing and knitting in her workbasket.

Vanessa Ling Yu, MHSc, MA is a health promoter, participatory action researcher, communications consultant, and anti-racism / anti-oppression facilitator with more than 15 years of experience working on issues and actions for equity. She has demonstrated interest and commitment to continued internal growth and external learning for food and race justice in local and global contexts through anthropological studies, health promotion programs, and wide-ranging food system initiatives.

Vanessa researches for greater awareness and action on the mish-mash of cultural, ethnic, and racial implications of food in gardens to restaurants to markets. She currently works in Social Equity and Health Research at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and enjoys volunteering with Food Forward, Growing Food Justice Initiative – Toronto – Local Empowerment Group, and Bathurst Finch Network’s Food Action Team. In 2010, she developed the “invisible food basket” to heighten awareness of white privilege across the food system.

(via Vanessa Ling Yu)

Sheila Sampath has been crafting creative for social good since 2003. Former chair of the board at the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/Multi-cultural Women Against Rape, she has a background in grassroots anti-oppression activism, which she incorporates into her strategic approach to graphic design and popular education as principal and creative director at The Public ( — an activist design studio specializing in changing the world.

She is the editorial and art director of award-winning magazine, Shameless ( — a Canadian feminist voice for young women and trans youth, and is actively involved in local art and music communities. She is a member of the British Council’s TN2020 Network and a fellow of the Royal Society of Artists. Sheila holds a diploma in graphic design from the George Brown College School of Design and an Honours BSc. in Sociology and Psychology from the University of Toronto. Her work as a designer has been widely recognized and awarded.

(via Sheila Sampath)

Thea Lim is a writer and a cultural critic focusing on the intersection of race, gender, sexuality and pop culture. Her work has been published by the GuardianSalonBitch MagazineJezebelthe Utne Reader, Canadian Women’s Studies\les cahiers de la femme, and in multiple university textbooks, including Opposing Viewpoints: Canada and Canadian Content. She has been cited by the Christian Science Monitorthe Atlantic and Roger Ebert. She co-facilitated the famed Asian Arts Freedom School in Toronto, and she served as editor of the award-winning Shameless Magazine blog and as deputy editor for the blog Racialicious. Invisible Publishing released her first novel, The Same Woman in 2007.

Her most recent writing has focused on fandom of colour, probing what celebrities of colour like Manny PacquiaoJeremy Lin and Mariah Carey mean to fans searching for rare images of themselves in the Western pop cultural landscape.

She currently teaches and studies creative writing at the University of Houston, where she also served as a non-fiction editor at Gulf Coast Journal. She grew up in Toronto and Singapore and is an (anti-imperialist) Third Culture Kid and an untragic mixie.

Follow her on Twitter: @theapants.

 (via Thea Lim)

My work, my whole life has been dedicated to liberation. One of my favorite writers is Mia Mingus, who is also a ‘femme identified womyn of color’ who is a disability justice activist says, “To me, femme must include ending ableism, white supremacy, heterosexism, the gender binary, economic exploitation, sexual violence, population control, male supremacy, war and militarization, and ownership of children and land.” And that resonates with me so powerfully.

 (via Q&A with Kim Crosby | Sway Magazine)