This blog is a compilation and collaboration between seven students enrolled in SO354: Introduction to Indigenous Issues and Human Services. We are all distance education students at the University of Victoria, and wish to acknowledge our place as visitors, whether virtual or in person, to the territories of the WS’ANEC’ (Saanich), Lkwungen (Songhees), Wyomilth (Esquimalt) peoples of the Coast Salish Nation.

As part of this project, group members spent time reflecting on our social locations in order to examine how it impacted the way we interact with work produced by and about Indigenous Women. Kimberly Blaeset, an Ojibway poet and professor points out,

the way any text is read depends on the ability of the reader to respond to it. [This is related to] traditional oral practices in Native cultures, where it is assumed that the listener has as much a part in the creation of the story as the teller. In this way, the listener also carries responsibility for the knowledge that is transmitted” (Anderson, 2000, p. 49).

Therefore, each group member has written a short descriptor, included below, that is intended to assist readers in understanding what factors influenced our construction of this project and affected the lens through which we have viewed the included material. We also ask that readers undertake a similar exercise before engaging with the presented work.  


I identify as a white, middle-class heterosexual woman and feel very privileged to be studying social work at the University of Victoria. I am living in East Vancouver and wish to acknowledge the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh peoples of the Coast Salish Nation on whose unceeded territories I currently reside. I was born and raised on the shores of Lake Huron in the small rural town of Kincardine, Ontario which is located on the traditional territory of the Saugeen Ojibway First Nations and still consider it as my home. Despite my very personal connection to my hometown, I recognize that as a non-Indigenous person, I have been a settler on all the lands I have lived on throughout my life.

My knowledge of and interaction with Indigenous communities has been fairly limited, so I approach this project and the writing and art of Indigenous women with an outsider’s perspective. As a benefactor of systemic colonialism in Canada, I acknowledge that I will approach much of the work presented in this project with biases and assumptions informed by my socialization and experiences as someone with a multitude of unearned privileges. As part of my personal decolonizing process, I am committed to working through my feelings of guilt and discomfort to search out truthful history and learn to listen to the voices of Indigenous women, who continue to be silenced or ignored across communities. My hope is that our project with serve as another medium through which the powerful work of Indigenous women can be shared and stories of both the ongoing pain of colonialism and the struggle for cultural reclamation will be heard.


Hi my name is Billie Leslie and I have been a Uvic student for about 6 years. Throughout my first degree I studied Anthropology and Women Studies which led me to have a keen interest in the attitudes and issues that impact women and different cultural perspectives and practices. I was interested in learning more about Indigenous women through my participation in this project because of my background but also because I wanted to gain a deeper understanding of how Indigenous women, specifically, take up the discourses of decolonization. I locate as a 28 year old, white, heterosexual woman and acknowledge the relative privileges that I have benefitted from due to this location. Throughout my first degree I began to challenge my gendered and cultural assumptions but I have found that social work has encouraged me to do a deeper internal inquiry. In my future social work practice I am dedicated to being an ally who will actively support and encourage Indigenous women’s efforts and initiatives towards resisting oppression and colonization. As part of my practice I also think it is imperative to acknowledge and not be afraid to name racism and neo-colonialism when it is exposed. I hope to approach this in my practice as a humble learner who has much to gain from the experiential knowledge of Indigenous people. I aim to take what I have learned about the resiliency and strength of Indigenous women in my future interactions within my practice and personal life.


My name is Cari and I was born and raised in Squamish, and continue to reside on traditional Squamish Nation territory.
Every morning I walk in the woods a gain a sense of being connected.  I feel an interconnection between my mind, body, breath, and spirit, as well as the land and space that I move through.   I want to start from this place, because it is in this place where I feel a sense of inner knowing that ultimately we are all connected.   Moving forward, into this project, it is important to me that I start from this place because it is here that I can write from a place and humility and respect.  And it is here that I can truly begin to transform my worldview.
In my social service practice, I work for women.  The circumstances that the women who I work with vary: some are fleeing abuse, others experiencing addictions, homelessness and mental illness.  What is obvious is that there is an overrepresentation of Indigenous women who are facing these issues.  What is also apparent is that there are always acts resistances to these oppressions.  There is a residing strength and desire to hold onto another truth that is outside of the clasp of colonization.
My feminist perspective drew me towards this project.  As a White feminist, I recognize the importance of decentring my worldview and re-centring the perspectives of Indigenous women.  Because I identify as White, I recognize that I am an outsider to many of the experiences and issues that Indigenous women face.  Although many of the materials and research collected in this project come from the perspectives of Indigenous women, they have been reinterpreted by my White settler world-view and therefore influenced by it.  Throughout this project, I did what I feel is integral to a White anti-colonial settler: I listened.  I listened to the many voices, stories and perspectives of Indigenous women.  It is my sincere hope, that part of the vision for decolonization that Indigenous women have is reflected within this project.


Hello, my name is Melonie Jensen and my perspective is informed by my experiences as a white, middle class, woman. Fortunately, my learning and growth through our program here at UVic has significantly expanded my understanding of marginalized peoples, opening my awareness and sensitivity to realities that are not my own. In particular this project that has focused on Indigenous women has expanded my understanding of the history and experience of Indigenous women in Canada, as well as opened my eyes to the marginalization that continues today.

From my experience and learning in this group I have an incredible respect for Indigenous women. I hope that my respect will be apparent when working alongside Indigenous peoples, especially women. There is such an incredible amount of wisdom and resilience within the hearts and minds of these women; I am left feeling like a humble understudy. With great intention I move toward a decolonizing practice aiming to return stolen respect and gratitude; and stay connected to the expense to Indigenous people that my privilege is based on.


I am woman! I naturally gravitated to this group as I am deeply invested in womens issues. The spaces and locations that I occupy inform my personal values and worldview. I am a 28 year old, single, heterosexual woman born and raised in Saint John, New Brunswick to a middle class family. My father is Portuguese and my mother is Lebanese and Italian. I have one older sister who lives a street over with her husband and my five year old nephew. I have one older brother who is single, homosexual and living in Portugal. I occupy many locations as a woman; I am a daughter, I am a sister, I am an aunt, I am a cousin, I am a niece, I am a friend, I am an advocate, and I am an ally, among many other things. The meanings that I attach to being a woman are directly impacted by these spaces that I occupy.

Going into this project, I was connected to my shared space of being a woman. I was interested in learning more about the spaces that Indigenous women occupy: spaces of oppression and marginalization, and spaces of strengths and resilience. My personal intentions in participating in this project were to gain insight and ‘truths’ of the history and experiences of Indigenous women. The information gathered in this project highlights significant events that have affected, and continue to affect, Indigenous Women. I will use this knowledge to inform my practice as I strive to live through an anti-oppressive lens.


My name is Vivian, and I would first like to honour and acknowledges the fact that I have been privileged to live in a Northwestern community called Terrace, BC which is situated upon Tsimshian traditional territory. I’ve lived here most of my life and I feel that I have developed over the years a strong connection to the people here and a great appreciation for the beauty and fertility of this traditional land.

Although our project is about Indigenous women, our focus is on whiteness and colonialism especially as a white, middle-class female I can best relate to the identity of a settler. My intentions for this project is to bring truth and transparency to the reality of colonization on Indigenous women, but even so, I am always mindful that my research and writings come from an outsider perspective and that I have the potential to minimize the experiences of Indigenous women. I hope that my search for the truth and desire to honour and respect the women we represent here will be portrayed as such

This project has significant meaning for me since my community is located on route of the “Highway of Tears” and in fact, one of the missing Indigenous women is known to me personally. Essentially, this project has been a way that I can honour her and all the Indigenous women who today fight for their rights to survive in a colonialist country. I believe raising consciousness about the truth, is essential of a decolonizing process, and what this means to me is to become uncomfortable with my power and privilege and therefore letting the truth be told. Decolonization means understanding colonialist history means making space for the voices of Indigenous women to share their experiences and have them validated and this is what I hope to accomplish here. Furthermore, I feel it’s important that we each recognize how we maintain racism and power inequalities in our every-day lives, and how we use language in a way that perpetuates racist values and racist rhetoric. More importantly, I recognize decolonizing doesn’t mean we wait for others to begin the process of decolonizing; it begins with each of us making changes every-day to ensure we respect and honor all Indigenous people so that our vision of justice can be realized.


My name is Yasmeen and I live in Calgary, on traditional T’suu T’ina (Sarcee) territory, by way of Egypt.  My family immigrated to Canada in 1990 during the Gulf War in Kuwait. I identify as a middle class Middle Eastern female with Western values and worldview. As a result of the events that happened to my family, i.e. immigrating to Canada, I have dedicated much of my time and career to seeking social justice. As with many non-Indigenous workers, I often find myself with limited knowledge about the culture, and I seek to learn from a not-knowing stance. I often hear about ‘white-man’s guilt’ with Indigenous issues, but at times I find I have ‘immigrant guilt.’ My family came to Canada to seek a better life, but I wonder if it is at the cost of another family’s life, or if it further perpetuates the marginalization of Indigenous people. I have always had a great interest in globalization and its effects on culture.
Much can be learned from the Indigenous culture, particularly its progressive view of women. Unfortunately, colonisation ideals have disrupted the balance in Indigenous communities, and forces of globalisation have enhanced it. Yet, as I learned in doing this project, Indigenous women have been a strong voice for social justice and have committed to restoring the balance. I believe that there must be an open dialogue amoung Indigenous communities and global organizations in order to achieve decolonization.


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