By Sophie Wright-Sinclair
Although Indigenous women account for only four percent of women in Canada, they account for a whopping eleven percent of all missing women in Canada. The missing and murdered Indigenous women of Canada is an often ignored human-rights crisis. The Canadian government, the RCMP, and we as a country need to pour time and resources into finding these women. But as we continue the discussion and action towards solving the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women, we also need to celebrate the incredible accomplishments of Indigenous women across Canada.
Autumn Peltier, at just seventeen years old, has been named the Chief Water Commissioner for the Anishinabek Nation. She comes from Wiikwemkoong First Nation on Manitoulin Island (about a six hour drive from Toronto). At ten years old, Autumn was shocked when her mother explained to her that there are communities that have been under boiling water advisories for over ten years. At just twelve years old, she attended a meeting of the National Assembly of First Nations and had a meeting with Justin Trudeau. ”I am very unhappy with the choices you made,” she told him, demonstrating bravery that inspired thousands. Trudeau replied that he understood and that he would protect the water. From that meeting onwards, her platform only grew. She spoke about the lack of clean water on First Nations reserves at the United Nations and has been nominated for the Children’s Peace Prize three times. Autumn continues her tremendously inspiring activism, demonstrating immense courage and intelligence.
The most famous Indigenous woman in Canada is probably Mary Simon. In 2021, Simon was named Canada’s first Indigenous Governor General. She has dedicated her life to fighting for Indigenous and human rights, particularly in the North. When she was installed as Governor General in July of 2021, Simon said “My Inuktitut name is Ningiukudluk, and Prime Minister, it means bossy little old lady.”
From the Métis community of Mallard, Manitoba, Brigette Lacquette is the first First Nations woman to play for the Canadian women's Olympic hockey team. She earned a silver medal in 2018 in Pyeongchang. She is now a scout for the Chicago Blackhawks and is the first Indigenous scout in the NHL. Growing up, she didn’t have many female Indigenous women hockey players to look up to, and she is proud and excited to be a role model for First Nations girls all across Canada.
From athletes to activists, there are thousands of Indigenous women across the country whose accomplishments deserve celebration. As we honour Indigenous women for International Women’s Day this March eighth, let us celebrate all they have accomplished, mourn those we have lost, and strive for a better future.