By Ishbel Munro

In May of 2016, 40 mostly Indigenous women gathered to talk about working together to create positive changes for their communities and beyond. Right from the start, there was a sense of hope and excitement. Drawing on the deep wisdom carried by the natural world and women’s connection to that, we quickly renewed living our values as women. We were all leaders, teachers and learners. There was strength in sharing our pain, our vulnerabilities.

“It’s being led by women and its going to end well.”

We shared our stories – stories of the impact of colonialism from Vietnam, Korea, and African Nova Scotian to the intergenerational impact of residential schools, the 60’s scoop and many community killing policies. And yet what shone was the astounding fact that women were still resilient, still looking for hope, looking how to move forward and make things better for their children and those to come.

“What is the story of Indigenous women? It is not the story of trauma. It is the story of resilience, power, hope and love embodied. I do not want to be defined by my trauma. It is time to change the story.”

We talked about the importance that this is a women led project. That is what drew people to it. Women are sacred. We carry life. And yet western society sends many messages causing confusion and pain for women and men. First Nations men are going against their natural grain. When women reclaim the language and culture, they are empowered and this brings a balance to our families and communities.

“I trust this circle, the process and the experience of women’s ceremonies because it’s not hierarchical, it’s collective, everyone has responsibility.”


“Change is happening, there’s a shift happening and it has everything to do with women, and I need that on a personal level, that is the thing that is keeping me going – connecting with strong women, believing that something else can happen and we need to make it happen.”

We all were working in very different ways to make the world a better place. When we thought of what we could do together, there was an overflowing of ideas. We soon came to realize that we couldn’t support a hundred different projects but we could support and strengthen each other. We are always giving to others, concerned for other. If we strengthen women, we strengthen our families and our communities.

“We’ve been divided – different cultures – we’ve been doing our own work in isolation. We need to stand together as sisters and walk together and do this work at the same time in our communities, empowering ourselves and each other.”


“Change is happening, there’s a shift happening and it has everything to do with women, and I need that on a personal level, that is the thing that is keeping me going – connecting with strong women, believing that something else can happen and we need to make it happen.”


“Developing a women-centered way of living.”

Through building an alternative; modelling what a women-led approach is, we are creating a model that is based on respect for all life; nourishing and strengthening our spirit. We are encouraging each other to overcome the “you are not good enough” attitude that we have internalized and to share our gifts with our families, communities and the wider society.

“The time is right for women to take the lead, especially our Indigenous communities – they are the carriers of knowledge of so much on how to take care of Mother Earth.”


“Rebuilding Canada from the ground up with right relations.”