Coalition on MMIWG2S+ Remembers Lillian Howard for her Legacy of Advocacy and Vision of Justice
Our hearts are heavy with the passing of Lillian Howard, who was an active and long-time member of the Coalition and fierce advocate for Indigenous women and peoples. The members of the Coalition share our heart-felt condolences with Lillian’s family, friends, relatives, and all whose lives were touched by her light and presence.
Lillian was a proud member of the Mowachaht-Muchalaht First Nation and was of Nuu-chah-nulth, Kwakwaka’wakw, and Tlingit ancestry. Lillian carried herself through life with an unwavering commitment to community and a dedication to justice. Lillian often reflected on the darkness she experienced through the residential school system, domestic violence, and the loss of family members to gender-based violence, and had an ardent commitment to helping others and overcoming injustice.
Lillian is remembered as a fierce social and environmental justice advocate who did not shy away from taking action in the name of justice for Indigenous people. Throughout decades of activism, she was known for having occupied the Indian Affairs office in Vancouver for 28 days in protest of inadequate housing, poor living conditions, and poverty among Indigenous communities in BC – as well as performing a 31-day hunger strike in support of Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence who fought for a meeting with former prime minister Stephen Harper.
In addition to her presence on the Coalition, and belonging to the Butterflies in Spirit dance group, Lillian held a number of roles and worked with multiple organizations. She worked at the Union of BC Indian Chiefs throughout the 1970s and played a foundational role in supporting the UBCIC’s work on the MMIWG2S+ crisis. During her time at the WISH Drop-In Centre as the Aboriginal Program Coordinator for the Aboriginal Health and Safety Program she shared care and compassion in her work with women living and working in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and advocated for sustained supports for Indigenous women on the Downtown Eastside. Working on the frontline, Lillian incorporated cultural teachings and life skills in support of the community’s most vulnerable. She served as co-chair for the Vancouver Urban Indigenous Peoples Advisory Committee, sat on the Vancouver Police Department Aboriginal Advisory Committee, was Executive Director of the Aboriginal Policing Centre, and was the co-founder of the Uplifting Indigenous Families Fund which raises funds to assist families during and after the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG2S+).
Lillian’s presence warmed and empowered countless lives and she leaves behind an impressive legacy that will continue to grow as it ripples across community through those who will carry her passion and vision forward in their work and advocacy. We raise our hands to Lillian and thank her for her contribution, for all of us were truly made better by her mighty spirit.
Donations are being accepted via go fund me to support Lillian’s family with funeral expenses during this difficult time.
With love and respect,
Battered Women’s Support Service
BC Assembly of First Nations
BC Association of BC Friendship Centres
BC Civil Liberties Association
BC First Nations Justice Council
Cheryl Bear, Director of Community Ministry, First United Church
Christina Entrekin, IVAH Consulting
Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre
Ending Violence Association of BC
Gladys Radek, Advocate for MMIWG + LGBTQ
Indian Residential School Survivor Society
Lorelei Williams, Butterflies in Spirit
Melanie Mark, MLA
Myrna Cranmer, February 14th Memorial March
Pacific Association of First Nations Women
Union of BC Indian Chiefs
Vancouver Aboriginal Community Policing Centre
West Coast LEAF
WISH Drop-In Centre Society