By Dave Baxter,
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
As more Indigenous women take on leadership roles in Manitoba, women are gathering in Winnipeg this week to discuss their roles as leaders, and as nation builders in First Nations communities.
The Southern Chiefs Organization (SCO) is hosting the Women’s Gathering on Nation Rebuilding event Monday and Tuesday at the Victoria Inn in Winnipeg, an event that is bringing Indigenous women together to discuss their roles as leaders, and as nation and community builders.
Hilda Anderson-Pyrz, who is a longtime advocate for Indigenous women and girls in Manitoba, spoke at the event on Monday, and said events like the one held this week are important, because for a long time the voices of Indigenous women were silenced, and women were held back from leadership roles because of patriarchal systems of government.
“Often because of colonization, our voices have been silenced and we have been excluded from the decision making tables, but today women are trailblazers, they are building pathways for changes in our communities for the inclusion of Indigenous women and girls and two-spirited and gender diverse people,” Anderson-Pyrz said.
“It is critically important that women’s voices are at the table.”
And the gathering this week is timely, as Indigenous women have been increasingly taking on leadership roles in Manitoba.
Back in October, Cathy Merrick was elected as the first ever female Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. (AMC) after former Grand Chief Arlen Dumas was ousted from the role following sexual assault and misconduct allegations.
As well, in August of this year, the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation
(NCN) in northern Manitoba elected its first ever female chief when Angela Levasseur was voted in as Chief.
Back in April, the Long Plain First Nation, a community near the city of Portage la Prairie, elected a female Chief for the first time since the early 1970’s, as Kyra Wilson was elected to be the first female Chief of Long Plain.
Wilson said on Monday that it is important that more women step into leadership roles in **>First Nations<** communities, and be given opportunities to step into those roles.
“We need to include Indigenous women in all political spaces, and it’s all about empowerment and building confidence within our women and within our families,” Wilson said.
“It’s about building that confidence in our families and in our homes, and it’s about women and men working together, because we want what is best for our communities, and we are working towards the same goals, which is to better our people and better our communities.”
-Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.