Report: 2013 BC Regional Women’s Conference

Thanks to Kelly Megyesi and Heather DuDoward for this report from the 2013 BC Regional Women’s Conference. Scroll down for some photos!

The 2013 PSAC BC Regional Women’s Conference was held May 3,4,5 in Vancouver. We chose an aboriginal theme so as to address two resolutions passed at the 2012 Triennial Convention.

BE IT RESOLVED THAT PSAC lobby Government to promote, develop, and implement affordable national system for Canada, Aboriginal Communities on/off reserve; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT PSAC fund political action, forums campaigns in Canada for child care to become a major PSAC priority.

BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Public Service Alliance of Canada undertake a campaign of lobbying the government of Canada to work with First Nations’ women’s organizations to establish a comprehensive plan of action to stop violence against Aboriginal women.

It was a long journey of learning for the organizing committee.  We spent time both regionally and nationally at museums, universities, shelters, and listening to elders and human rights speakers.  It was a wonderful opportunity for us to grow as people and to understand our role as sisters.

Special thank you to Heather DuDoward, BC PSAC Regional Council Aboriginal Equity Representative, who first helped with the vision and then later joined our committee and guided us with understanding and knowledge. I felt we learned to listen a little better and our committee worked hard to provide a safe and inclusive environment to tackle some very difficult subjects.

The room we held our conference in was decorated with silhouettes and stories of some of Canada’s missing women.  We hosted an altar, gave gifts of tobacco & pocket spirits, shared in crafting dream catchers, listened to meaningful drumming, and through our silent auction raised money that has been donated to three charities – Childcare Campaign, Butterflies in Spirit, and the 2013 BC Elder Gathering.

Our Speakers

Each day of our three day conference featured an aboriginal speaker.  I invite you to read about these phenomenal women. 

TINA HOUSE: Tina House is the President/owner of a Vancouver based Talent Agency, Video Production and Promotions Company.  She is a proud member of the Métis Nation and is currently a Video Journalist for the National News & Current Affairs Show on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN). She has been bestowed the “Amnesty International Human Rights Journalism Award for Canada”, for a moving half hour investigative report on the serious issue of murdered and missing women across Canada.  Tina worked with the women at our conference to make a statement about stopping violence against women. Native Women Association of Canada – Each Statistic Tells a Story.

KORY WILSON: Kory is a proud member of the Kwakwaka’wakw Nation. She is a graduate from UBC Law School and is currently the Director of Aboriginal Education and Services at Vancouver Community College. Ms. Wilson has taught post-secondary education for the last 15 years. Kory spent time with us discussing aboriginal history, women’s issues and a candid look at myth and facts.  She connected with the participants and empowered us as women to move forward.  Ms. Wilson is a committed and passionate speaker.

FYRE JEAN GRAVELINE: Dr. Graveline is a Métis traditionalist, scholar, teacher, healer, artist, activist, and mother.  Employed in the fields of education and human services for the last 30 years, she has consistently challenged individuals and organizations to examine and change their attitudes and practices while working to revitalize Aboriginal Traditions, to honour the knowledge of community resources, especially Elders.

In addition to her wonderful display of art touching on Idle No More, she led the group in a participatory drama entitled the “Cage of Oppression”.  In a short period of time Fyre Jean was able to have us comprehend and experience oppression.  The experience was amazing and we were all touched.

Music, Dance and Action

The weekend highlighted so many others including our own PSAC member Catherine-Blackstock Campbell who opened and closed our conference. Catherine is Gitxsan, from the House of Geel, Fireweed Clan and Killerwhale crest. She was born and raised in Hazelton, BCis married and a mother to Allison and grandma to Ilja. In 2009, she received the hereditary chieftainship for the House of Geel.

Marilyn Schmaus, a Métis PSAC member from Prince Georgesang for us at our reception and Tiinisha Begaye, from the Okanagan (Syilx) and Navajo, a singer song writer and visual artist also sang for us.

Lorelei Williams, who is an Interior Salish, First Nations woman from Skatin Nation, had a vision to have aboriginal women perform a dance while wearing T-shirts with the missing and murdered women’s names and pictures. The “Butterflies in Spirit” dance sent a message and it was very moving to watch their performance.

Participants also learned about the Faceless Doll Project and added some to the collection.  It was a great way to start the conversation about the issue of murdered and missing women.

And last but not least, participants learned about the $10/day childcare plan for BC – download the powerpoint presentation here.