March 8, 2022
Leading and Inspiring with Power: Honouring the Strength of Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit People on International Women’s Day
(Xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh)/Vancouver, B.C. – March 8, 2022) International Women’s Day (IWD) is not only a reminder to celebrate the remarkable achievements of women around the world, but a critical call to support and protect the sacred roles, responsibilities, and rights of Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people. This IWD, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) honours Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people who are driving forward change and calls upon the public and governments around the globe to support their mission to achieve equality and dismantle all systems and frameworks that perpetuate colonial and gender-based violence.
“Over the past year in B.C., Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit individuals have faced and overcome enormous challenges that have compounded the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the Shadow Pandemic of increased gender-based and domestic violence,” stated Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, UBCIC Secretary-Treasurer. “With sheer resiliency, they have fought through catastrophic extreme weather events, including floods, droughts, and wildfires. They have fought through the traumatic recovery of stolen Indigenous children from unmarked burial sites at former residential schools. They have fought through intensifying discrimination across the country that has buoyed the so-called ‘freedom convoy’ movement and its colonial violence, anti-Semitism, and disrespect for Indigenous cultures. They have fought through an unprecedented toxic drug crisis in B.C. that continues to disproportionately impact Indigenous populations. Through all these hardships, our women, girls, and two-spirit individuals have never stopped empowering, inspiring, and loving one another – they have persevered with dignity and integrity and have made it clear they will not stop working to champion their Title and Rights and sacred roles and responsibilities. On this day of celebration and action, UBCIC calls for the fulsome implementation of Article 22 of the UN Declaration, which secures the protection of Indigenous women and children against all forms of violence and discrimination, and we rally around each and every person working to hold BC and Canada accountable to their commitments to end the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG2S+) Crisis.”
“On this International Women’s Day, I lift up our strong women and remind them to return to the land and waters for rest and healing, for they are our teachers and ground us in our sense of belonging, our culture and our identities,” stated UBCIC Elder’s Representative Amelia Washington. “The land has nurtured us always; it is in defense of this truth that so many of our women stand as guardians today in the face of destruction and irrevocable environmental damage.
The neocolonial policies causing and exacerbating climate change – much like the historical colonial policies that severed Indigenous peoples’ sacred connection to the land through land dispossession, blatant sexism and discrimination, forceable removal of women from their communities, and seizure of children – are bearing down on our people in full force. Until there is full recognition of Indigenous Title and Rights and protection of our inherent relationship to the land, we will not see the healing and protection which is needed to save our home. The time is now to listen to our women, our matriarchs and youth, our fiercest leaders and protectors, and to hear the teachings they share in honour of our Mother Earth.”
“Indigenous women have always been on the front lines, as land defenders and as warriors in the fight to end gender-based violence. Together we stand united as relatives in defense of our lands and one another”, stated Women’s Representative Melissa Moses. “The onslaught of violence against our women defending the land and waters against the imposition of harmful resource extraction is colliding in real and dangerous ways with the MMIWG2S+ crisis. Land defenders are facing increased militarization and violence from colonial armed forces, while work camps or 'man camps' connected to resource extraction projects have been linked to increased rates of gender-based violence, and remote regions of the province including the Highway of Tears and Okanagan continue to see staggering rates of violence and murders amid a Shadow Pandemic of increased domestic and gender-based violence. I am humbled by the immense strength and resilience of our women who continue to endure hardship and violence just for existing and standing up for our inherent rights. In my heart, I know with our collective strength we will cultivate a future of safety, community, and love for the next generations”.
Judy Wilson, UBCIC Secretary-Treasurer: c/o c/o 778-866-0548
Melissa Moses, UBCIC Women’s Representative: [email protected]
Amelia Washington, UBCIC Elder’s Representative: 250-280-0597
UBCIC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
For more information please visit www.ubcic.bc.ca