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Indigenous Young Women

Speaking our Truths, Building our Strengths

The Native Youth Sexual Health Network partnered with Girls Action Foundation on the project, Indigenous Young Women: Speaking our Truths, Building our Strengths, focusing on Indigenous young women’s leadership, empowerment, solidarity-building, and ending violence. Skill sharing and group facilitation are at the heart of this project, emphasizing the reality that youth ideas matter and that youth are experts in their own right! Women’s strength has always existed in Indigenous communities, and it continues to grow.

The Speaking our Truths, Building our Strengths project involved organizing a first-ever national gathering of Indigenous young women, supporting ten peer-led community actions, and producing tools on leadership and community organizing.

In collaboration with Native Youth Sexual Health Network, the project is led by a peer Advisory Committee made up of ten Indigenous young women from across Canada. They are:

  • Amanda Darroch-Mudry
  • Erin Konsmo
  • Janice Grey
  • Jasmine Redfern
  • Jocelyn Formsma
  • Kari-Dawn Wuttunee
  • Krysta Williams
  • Lacey Whiteduck
  • Marie Holeiter
  • Theresa J Lightfoot

The Gathering

In 2011, a first Gathering was organized for self-identified young Indigenous Women between the ages of 16-25, including First Nations, Métis, and Inuit, status or non-status, beneficiary or non-beneficiary. The Gathering welcomed women who identify as Trans, Two Spirit, or gender non-conforming.

The Gathering provided an opportunity to learn important teachings from elders and other traditional teachers.

The 4-day gathering explored key areas such as:

  • Ending racism and violence
  • Reclaiming knowledge and teachings from Elders
  • Pride in cultural diversity and difference
  • Arts for social change
  • Skill-sharing
  • Mentorship

Participants had a chance to engage in both formal and informal mentorships. These mentorships were created between Elders, traditional teachers and young women. In recognition of the valuable knowledge that youth have to share with one another, peer-to-peer mentorship opportunities were also created. 

Community Actions

For the Advisory Committee, it was crucial that the work of the project  extend beyond the four day Gathering. Ten communities represented at the Gathering were chosen to put the skills, knowledge and tools gained at the Gathering to use through implementing local community actions! This was an opportunity for communities to express their voices and to create the changes they would like to see in their communities. 

Community actions directly involved Indigenous young women in their planning and organization. They focused on Indigenous young women’s empowerment in the face of violence prevention and/or youth empowerment.

A report on these Community Actions will be released shortly.

Tools

Please check out two amazing zines “Indigenous Young Women LEAD! Our stories, our strengths, our truths” and “Start something Fierce! A young woman’s guide to grassroots organizing" - 2nd edition Designed by and for young women as part of this project, both publications are about taking action in the many communities they live, work and participate in.  

For more information in Inuktitut, please click here