Women are the backbone of communities
- Alyson Bear | April 09, 2018
With so much hurt, pain and anguish in the atmosphere right now from the recent verdicts I want to focus on something hopeful and encouraging happening in our community right now. This month’s theme is women and as I have said before, women are the backbone to our families and communities. Women rise above to lead the future. They show our young girls how to be strong and independent and our young boys that it is okay to have emotions and feelings. Progress is happening in the community and being led by our very own hardworking Indigenous women.
There is a woman I am grateful and proud to call my friend who has been working hard on a program I would like to highlight. Rheana Worme is a Nehiyaw Iskwew (Cree Woman) from Kawacatoose First Nation. She is a law student at the University of Saskatchewan and volunteers with Level Justice as the Indigenous Youth Outreach Program (IYOP) Leader. She has been working very hard not just as a law student but working with grade 6-7’s at the St. Francis Cree bilingual elementary school in Saskatoon. Rheana coordinated a six-week course meeting every Monday afternoon with the grade 6,7 students to mentor and create a positive introduction to the justice system while learning about legal education. This six week course leads up to a mock trial.
I had the opportunity to volunteer and attend a few sessions. One session I attended was held at St. Francis school where Donald Worme came and spoke to the group. To sit and listen to Donald Worme speak about his own journey and all the obstacles he had to overcome as an Indigenous person to become the contributing trailblazing Indigenous lawyer he is today was an honour and inspiration to witness.
The other session I attended was a Building Better Allies training session Rheana coordinated at the University of Saskatchewan. This was a training session for IYOP volunteers and fellow students at the University of Saskatchewan who are interested in working with Indigenous communities and youth.
The third was the final session at the College of Law where the grade 6,7’s did a mock trial with the Honourable Justice Gerald Morin. Justice Gerald Morin has now been taking part in this program for the past five years and he is also a Saskatchewan Provincial Court judge who conducts court sessions in Cree in northern Saskatchewan. Every time I was able to attend it was beyond rewarding to be around the youth, our future, our hope and the reason why we work so hard and do what we do. Each of these sessions gave me that much more reason to keep pushing forward down the path that I am on.
It is through these mentorships with Indigenous youth, it is through being honest, real and allowing them to see our own people who have overcome adversary and they can relate to that and feel it in themselves and their own lives.
Our women carry, give life and take care of the children and this needs to be recognized and our women deserve to be treated as such. There was something my own grandmother told me recently when I was feeling defeated after the recent verdicts came out. “You believe in yourself my girl, and as long as you believe in yourself no one can take that away.”
That is the same with knowledge and education. Once you earn it no one can take it away. Becoming educated is an important tool in today’s world and even our old ones have always told us we need to “walk in both worlds” to build a better future for all of our children. That is why it is important to create non-indigenous allies, because there are people who care, and want to make a difference, a better world for all.
There are many strong women in my life that inspire me and I am grateful and blessed to have, my mother, aunties, grandmothers, teachers, coaches and friends. I think as women it is our duty to empower one another instead of competing with one another. It is these strong women challenging not only their own families, but the men in their lives and society to see the truth and to start to build a bridge of healing, trust, and truth. I see right now as the beginning of an awakening and I see a lot of hope and people coming together to empower one another and end these injustices that are still happening in our communities.