Categories > The Women of IAAW

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!

The Women of IAAW: Marggo Pariseau

Marggo is a Cree/French woman whose descendants are from Driftpile, AB. Having worked for the community for over 40 years, and at IAAW for 26 years, she is full of irreplaceable knowledge and skill in engaging women in the community to become empowered beings. Her job profile ranges from supporting women in the correctional system to helping house women who are in need. She helps women in the correctional systems by referring them to different resources and helping them through any situation, good or bad. Marggo notes that the women want to explore their culture, and the women look to her as a role model and elder that can help them with medicines, and spiritual guidance. Some of the women even call her “kokum”, which is the Cree word for grandmother. Marggo also has success in housing women, housing 18 women in the 2 years that IAAW has provided this service.

Marggo loves life, and practices being grateful for all the opportunities she is presented with in life. She says “my oxygen tank and my walker doesn’t slow me down!”. One piece of advice that Marggo would like to share with women is to practice self-care, in whatever shape or form. She recommends practicing reflection, and meditation.

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Marggo also facilitates the Esquao Fire Keepers Circle, which leads women through the 12 steps to sobriety. The circles are ongoing and happen every Thursday at the IAAW office. For more information, email Marggo at mpariseau@iaaw.ca

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