One in four Canadians suffers from some type of anxiety disorder, including myself. It is hard for me to leave the house without hesitation, or to let myself let go without worrying that something devastating will happen to me. Part of that stems from the struggles that Indigenous women face.
One issue that has definitely affected my life greatly is the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Today, it is hard to find an Indigenous family that has not been affected by this. I found things like walking down the street difficult because always felt like I was in danger.
This past January, I had a friend go missing. She was fifteen at the time, and a search party wasn’t issued until days after her mom reported that she was gone.
It’s terrifying to think that I could be gone days without any sort of effort from the police to find me.
I have no doubt that I am not the only Indigenous girl who has had feelings of being alone and like the colour of my skin is “wrong” — or that they should be scared because of who they are. Sometimes it can be hard to realize that there is an entire community who want to make change for Indigenous women.
When I was first introduced to the situation around MMIWG, I was in the tenth grade. I was nervous to introduce myself to the school’s Indigenous mentor for weeks, and when I finally did, she invited me to an MMIWG awareness walk later that night. I went with my mom, and I was immediately changed. After the walk, I made it a goal of mine to take part in making a change in Indigenous rights, and how we are treated in society, and she has done all she can to help me achieve that goal.
I began by asking to put up an awareness board in my school’s hallway, but after my request was ignored for months, I made change without permission.
I joined forces with other people that were willing to listen to me and had the same goals. As a team, we continue to do amazing things, and as the school year begins, I know we have so much more to do. Each day is another day a missing woman is still not found. Another day away from their lives, their families — and away from safety.
Despite my group’s successes, it still felt like I wasn’t doing enough, and it terrified me. I am passionate about what I speak about, but sometimes I still doubt myself. I wonder every day what I can do, how I can spread the message. I found that I had to learn to be okay with the person that I am and to trust that I am doing what is right. I am doing what makes me happy and something that makes the world a better place for future generations. I am doing something that saves the women around me, my women, all with the help of women who have the same passions as I do, women who want to make a change, who will make a change.
It is very important that we as women build each other up.
All over media, young women are told how they should look, how to dress, and how to act. When we don’t meet these ideologies, they put us down, and make us feel even worse about ourselves in a world where you already aren’t seen as “enough”. It has become a constant battle in my head, to believe in myself, and to be proud of who I am. There have been many nights where I have stayed up thinking about the things I can change about myself, many nights where I have stayed up late because I can’t seem to fall asleep. In these times, the most notable thing that I would tell myself was that I was alone when in reality, I never was and never will be.
Michelle Obama once said, “As women, we must stand up for ourselves, as women we must stand up for each other… as women we must stand up for justice for all”. As Indigenous women living in Canada, this is especially true. Once we each carry the mindset that we can change the world, we truly can change the world. In our culture, women are one of the most powerful beings there is, so never forget it, because we still, and always will have that power inside us.