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The Women of IAAW: Lulu

Lulu first became involved with IAAW after she participated in the self-management program where she met Marggo, the Community Program Coordinator for IAAW. WIthin this umbrella, Marggo coordinates the Housing Diversion program , where women are provided their first month’s rent as well as assistance furnishing an apartment so long as they participated in another IAAW program.

After moving to Edmonton from St. Theresa Point First Nation in Manitoba, she was on a mission to better her life and the lives of her children. She mentioned that she is doing the Housing Diversion Program in order to be able to move her kids to Edmonton and start over. Slowly, she hopes to reunite with her 3 boys and 2 girls.

Lulu lived in the St. Theresa Point reserve all her life, and never had a place to call her own. When asked what the best part was about living independently, she said that she can celebrate being sober every time she realizes how far she’s come. In her free time, she enjoys beading, creating jewellery, designing skirts and other fabrics on her day off from her job as a cook at Cunningham Place. She hopes to teach others about the traditional ways of beading because she is a believer in tradition and its therapeutic effects. IAAW is proud of women like Lulu who set goals and work hard to achieve them. After all that Lulu learned in the different programs she was involved with, she was able to take these tools and apply them to her daily life. Great job Lulu!

The Women of IAAW: Alexa Blyan

Alexa Blyan, a 15-year-old Cree/Blackfoot woman from Lloydminster, Alberta is a fantastic example of a passionate young woman who wants to be the change they see in the world. While she works hard as a high school student, she also spends a lot of her free time with the SOAR mentorship team at her school, which focuses on advocating for Indigenous rights. With this group she facilitates the Kairos blanket exercise and has done so for up to 1000 people; delivers speeches about Missing and Murdered Indigenous peoples in her community; goes to school and reads Indigenous stories to young children, and teaches community members about treaty rights and much more. Upon graduating high school in a few years, she hopes to take up Midwifery and open her own clinic in Saskatchewan where there are no Indigenous midwifery clinics currently available.

Alexa recently attended the IAAW Young Indigenous Women’s Retreat in Sherwood Park, AB and produced a moving piece on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women for a workshop taught by Lana Whiskeyjack , a local artist, academic, and advocate. When asked Alexa why she is passionate about speaking out about MMIW, she said “…growing up, where I am, it’s not the most welcoming town and when things happen with Missing and Murdered people, you don’t hear about it for a while.” Ultimately, she said that her goal is to help shape the place she lives so that children don’t have to be afraid to walk down the street like she was. Great job Alexa, from the IAAW team, we want to say we are proud of you! Keep up the great work.

Read the blog post that Alexa wrote for us back in September HERE!

The Women of IAAW: Winnie Cardinal

Winnie is a First Nations woman from the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation, proud mother of 5, and a recent graduate of the Empower U Financial Literacy Program. As a busy mother of five, she knows the importance of being financially literate. Although at first, she was unsure about what she would get out of the program, she ended up really enjoying her classes. Her favourite part of the program is that it is woman-based, and the small groups make it easy to feel comfortable. The environment was also non-judgemental, and she felt reassured that everything that was shared in the group was confidential.

When asked about her favourite part of the program, she said it was goal setting and realizing that goal by the end of the program. In her own words, “I was so excited that I saved so much. It feels good to have something put away for my kids”. Part of Winnie’s savings will go towards a sewing machine so she can make her kids’ pow-wow outfits. Great job Winnie!

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