Part of moving forward and engaging in decolonization involves looking back and acknowledging the historical and continuing traumas that continue to affect Indigenous women, as we have tried to do in earlier portions of this project.  It involves recognizing how colonization has disrupted and negatively affected the identities and places occupied by Indigenous women in their cultures and communities.

It is equally important that the lives of these women on a whole become known and that we do not merely work to approach understanding from a deficit point of view.  We must also seek to understand Indigenous women as individuals who have endured so much, yet still remain strong and resilient and to show that they have fought and continue to challenge the indignity of colonization.

Much of that activism and struggle involves pushing back against stereotypes and negative portrayals of Indigenous women that continue to contribute  violence and marginalization, as clearly articulated in the previous posts.   Kim Anderson, a Cree/Metis woman, wrote  “A Recognition of Being: Reconstructing Native Womanhood” to express her “vision of a society where every member has a place, a sense of value, a gift to bring” (2000, p. 13)    Anderson (2000) and other Indigenous authors argue that highlighting and putting forward positive messages about Indigenous female identity is a complex process of reclamation and reconstruction.   It does not require “simply springing back to a previous state, but is a dynamic process of adjustment, adaptation and transformation in response to challenges and demands” (Kirmayer et al., 2011, p. 85) faced by modern Indigenous women.

(Diagram adapted from Anderson, 2000, p. 16)

The diagram above, based on the traditional medicine wheel, outlines the elements that Anderson (2000) identifies as part of this identity reconstruction process.  She states that

very simply, the identity formation process that I have documented involves: Resisting negative definitions of being, reclaiming Aboriginal tradition, constructing a positive identity by translating tradition into contemporary context and acting on that identity in a way that nourishes the overall well-being of our community” (Anderson, 2000, p. 15).

The following sections are meant to highlight the ongoing resistance of Indigenous women, their activism and passion for carving out positive identities in the face of continued oppression, colonization and marginalization.   We would like to bring forward the achievements of Indigenous women and demonstrate how they are reclaiming position of authority, leadership and mentorship while becoming sources of hope and inspiration, instilling a renewed vision of the future for all Indigenous peoples.