Motivated by ancient traditions of female leadership as well as their need for improved legal rights, First Nations women are stepping to the forefront of the Idle No More.
Late last year, amid the rallies, dances, blockades, and furious tweeting that accompanied the burgeoning Idle No More movement, a young native woman was kidnapped by two Caucasian men in Thunder Bay, Ontario. It was two days after Christmas. They drove her out to a remote wooded area where they raped and strangled her. According to one report, the men told her that they’d done this before, and intended to do it again. They allegedly said, “You Indians deserve to lose your treaty rights.”
The story was not widely reported in the press, maybe because the woman, publicly known as “Angela Smith,” is indigenous, or maybe because violence against indigenous women happens so frequently that it’s rarely considered news.
Which is what makes the very fact of Idle No More’s female leadership so significant. Across Canada, indigenous women are continuing a tradition of leadership that existed before colonization, and in spite of a political system which, over the last 150 years, has made every attempt to prevent them from having power.
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