Hundreds have gathered to take part in the first Indigenous Iskew+ in Leadership Symposium ever held in Grande Prairie.
With the goal of changing the stigma Indigenous women face, panelists, elders, and other special guests shared stories about what has worked for them, and what they as a community can do to help young Indigenous women in their lives.
Métis National Council Elder Angie Crerar says the message she felt from the two-day event was a special one which should fill future generations with hope.
“Proving that when you work together you will get positive results, and the problems and challenges we face today, we need to work together and respect harmony and friendship.”
Crerar not only has a Grande Prairie park named after her but has been involved with the Friendship Centre for nearly four decades. She says the evolution she has seen in Indigenous women all comes down to one simple factor: working together for a greater good.
“I’ve seen so many changes; there have been many hardships, and a lot of pain and suffering, but we have overcome it. We are survivors, and we have come a long way, but we can only achieve that by working together.”
Psychologist Ruth Proulx echoes that statement and suggested to those in the audience that words have a powerful meaning. She argues even little statements can have a profoundly negative impact on a positive situation.
“A micro invalidation of somebody giving you a compliment; it’s so small and [shows] how we as women sometimes minimize the empowerment and gratitude that is being passed down to us. Just saying ‘yea, but’; it’s something we do to invalidate that.”
Those in the audience also got a chance to hear from Anthony Johnson and Dr. James Makokis, the Edmonton-based Indigenous two-spirit couple who won a recent season of the Amazing Race Canada.