Indigenous Women Warriors are the Heart of Indigenous Resistance
Excerpted from Counter/Action essay June 6/2017
Pamela Palmater is a Mi’kmaw citizen and member of the Eel River Bar First Nation in northern New Brunswick, Canada. She has been a practicing lawyer for 18 years and is currently an Associate Professor and the Chair in Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University.
Despite the many legal protections for Indigenous women in Canada, governments continue to fight against them. They continue to deny Indigenous women equality under the Indian Act despite court’s direction to the contrary; they refused to abide by a decision of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal which directed Canada to stop discriminating against Indigenous children in foster care; and they have failed to act to stop the growing crisis of murdered and missing Indigenous women. If that were not enough, 93% of Indigenous languages are at risk of extinction; treaties are regularly violated; Indigenous lands continue to be taken up for mining and other extractive industries; our waters are sold to corporations, while hundreds of First Nation communities lack secure, clean drinking water; First Nations are chronically underfunded in all social programs and services; and legislation is passed annually without our consent despite laws to the contrary.
In the end, despite the multiple, over-lapping crises faced by our Nations and despite the dual disadvantages faced by Indigenous women and girls, it was our women who educated, organized and helped lead the largest Indigenous social movement in Canada’s history: Idle No More.